ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week, celebrating the player that has the best stats, impact or storyline to earn the honor. To nominate someone, please email us here by midnight on Monday each week. Photos and context are encouraged!
With due respect to Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets, who had five goals in four games to win NHL player of the week honors, we're going with Hill, who was a like an adobe wall for Arizona. Hill stopped 59 of 60 shots he faced in going 3-0-0 with a .983 save percentage and a shutout. That included 20 minutes in relief in a 4-3 win over Minnesota and a 29-save shutout over the Nashville Predators, which is no small feat, especially for a rookie.
Meeri Räisänen, Connecticut Whale (NWHL)
The goalie made 31 saves in a 4-0 win over the defending NWHL champion Metropolitan Riveters, continuing a strong first season in the league, and bolstering her .918 save percentage. That she's playing in the NWHL is a wacky story. She was available in the CWHL draft, where the Worchester Blades needed a goalie. Except they goofed and didn't draft her, allowing the Markham Thunder to select her in the eighth round. The Blades eventually realized that goof and tried to draft her ... except, you know, she had already been drafted. Which left Räisänen "a little confused." She ended up not signing with the Thunder, who were stacked in goal, and the Whale swooped in (as much as a whale can swoop) to sign her to the rival NWHL instead. Räisänen has played professionally against women and men in Finland, and made two Finnish Olympic team rosters.
Erik Condra, Texas Stars (AHL)
Hey, remember Erik Condra? He extended his scoring streak to eight games with four goals and four assists in three games. That included a career high five points in a 7-4 win at the Chicago Wolves. Now in his 10th season, Condra has 259 AHL games with Texas, Syracuse and Binghamton. The 2006 Ottawa Senators seventh-rounder last appeared in the NHL on Feb. 11, 2017, with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Vadim Shipachyov, HC Dynamo (KHL)
Hey, remember Vadim Shipachyov, the Original Golden Knight whose disastrous NHL tenure lasted just two months before he returned to Russia? Well, he was dynamic for HC Dynamo last week, with six points in three games. In total, he had a hand in six of the eight goals scored by his team.
Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Speaking of the Golden Knights, Glass was named the WHL player of the week for scoring eight points (two goals, six assists) and generating a plus-five rating in two games. He was also named to Canada's world junior selection camp for a chance to join their world junior team for the honor of losing to the Americans. (Love you, Canada.)
And the best player in the world of the week is ...
Patrick Gaul, South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL)
So, who is Patrick Gaul?
Well, he's a 28-year-old Pittsburgh native and a former center for the University of Notre Dame following a stint with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He made his pro debut with the Mississippi RiverKings of the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2012-13, before getting called up to the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, where he's played ever since.
On Friday, he scored one of the most memorable goals of his career, for a couple of reasons. First, it was a breakaway goal with six seconds left in overtime to give his team a win over the Florida Everblades. Second, because he didn't use his own stick to score it, although he did use a stick.
The play started in the Stingrays' defensive zone, where Tad Kozun sprung Gaul on a breakaway. One problem: He lost his stick playing defense moments earlier. So he started skating, without a stick, after the puck.
But as he passed the South Carolina bench, he found another stick: That of rookie defenseman Tim Davison, handed to him from the bench. He took the twig, controlled the puck and scored the game-winner.
- ECHL (@ECHL) December 1, 2018
For the record, both players are left-handed. Gaul's stick is a 75 flex and he uses black tape. Davison's stick is a higher-end CCM Ribcore that was made for use in the AHL, with an 85 flex. Davidson's stick was an inch taller, as he's a little bigger than Gaul. And they have the same curve.
"I started yelling 'lefty!' as I got near the bench," said Gaul on the Stingrays' radio broadcast. "You could see in the replay that I looked down and had no idea whose stick I had. You go with what you got. Very reactionary."
For this sticky situation, Patrick Gaul is The Best Player In The World Of The Week. Congrats!