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!
Ty Ronning, Maine Mariners (ECHL)
On Saturday night, the Mariners were down 4-1 to Manchester with less than 14 minutes remaining in the game. That’s when Ronning set up Michael McNicholas for a goal. One minute and 27 seconds later, Ronning scored his first goal of the season. Then he scored again, 4:07 after that, to tie the game. Then he had a secondary assist on Vince Pedrie’s goal at 15:58 of the third period for the lead, and finished his hat trick at 19:14 of the third period into an empty net for the 6-4 win. Five points in 13:21. Best performance by a Ronning since his father, Cliff Ronning, in “NHLPA 93.”
Nick Niedert, Reading Royals (ECHL)
Emergency backup goalie alert! Niedert made 38 saves in a 2-1 win for the Royals, who were without goalie Austin Lotz, who was called up to the AHL, and Angus Redmond, who suffered a concussion. So the emergency backup stepped in as a starter (!) and helped the Royals to victory. It had been 1,032 days since his last start in the ECHL. “To play in a meaningful game in a National Hockey League affiliated league at this age … I’m 5-foot-8 from Iowa. It’s not exactly a hockey hotbed. I’ve been on borrowed time since I was 16 years old, when I left home. All the stuff that I went through in my very, very, very, extremely long career, it really was worth it [Saturday] night to see what the 17 other guys had to go through to get a win,” he told Pro Hockey Talk. Here’s what the end of the game looked like:
Richard Bordowski, Basingstoke Bison (National Ice Hockey League 1 South)
The Czech forward put on a show on Saturday night. At the end of the second period, the Bison trailed 5-1 to the Romford Raiders. Bordowski scored a natural hat trick in the third period to force overtime and then had the game winner in OT. Oh, but wait, there’s more: On Sunday at Streatham, he assisted on two goals in a 4-2 win, qualifying them for the semifinals of their tournament. Bordowski is 36 and playing in his first season in the U.K., after a career in the Czech Republic and Poland. Thanks to reader Anthony Russell for the tip.
Morgan Frost, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Frost scored two goals and had seven assists in three games for the Greyhounds. Huh, according to what we’ve seen, he was acquired by the Flyers with one of the two first-round picks they received from the St. Louis Blues in the Brayden Schenn deal. What a bold trade and a solid draft choice. No way you’d fire the guy who pulled off that beauty. Wait, what?
Kimberly Sass, Metropolitan Riveters (NWHL)
The Riveters have a darn good goalie in Katie Fitzgerald. So Sass has had to wait her turn to see action. Last season, that meant only one start. But she got her chance this weekend and took advantage of it: She made 33 saves and stopped three more in the shootout to backstop the Riveters to a win over the Connecticut Whale. “You have to make the most of your opportunities and I’m just glad I could give the team an opportunity to win today,” she said. Then she took to Twitter to celebrate in an emoji-filled way:
Joseph Veleno, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
The 2018 Detroit Red Wings first-rounder had himself a week. From Nov. 18 through Nov. 25, Veleno had 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in four games and moved up to fifth in the Q in scoring, with 38 points in 23 games. Please recall that he asked for exceptional status at 15 years old, was denied, lobbied for it, and the QMJHL relented for the Montreal-born forward. The four other guys who earned that: John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day (currently in the ECHL).
And the best player in the world of the week is …
Sometimes, the obvious choice is still the choice.
Laine had 11 goals in four games. A brief list of players whose season-long goal-scoring totals Laine matched in just four games:
Laine had his sixth hat trick in a 6-3 win over Vancouver. He had two goals in a 6-3 loss to the Flames. He then had a franchise-record five goals against the Blues in an 8-4 win, the 57th time in NHL history that a player scored five goals in a game and the first time since Johan “The Mule” Franzen did so in February 2011. He’s only the third player to score five goals in a game before his 21st birthday. His 16 goals in November are the most in a single month since Mario Lemieux had 17 in December 1996, and Laine needed 10 games while Mario did it in 15.
We’re often dedicating this space to the gloriously weird and heartwarming stories from around the hockey world. But in some cases, there’s no denying that the Best Player in the World of the Week is someone who statistically could not be labeled in any other way.
For scoring all the goals, Patrik Laine is the Best Player in the World of the Week.