ESPN presents the best player in the world of the week. If there’s a player you’d like to nominate, from your local team to a high school team to your beer league, email us here.
Best player in the world of the week (for the week ending Jan. 7)
The best player on the best line in hockey had himself a week. Bergeron scored five goals in three games, and added two assists, as the Bruins extended their point streak to 11 games and 8-0-3 overall. He scored four goals and added an assist in a 7-1 trouncing of the Carolina Hurricanes, becoming the first Boston player in nearly 20 years to tally four times in a game. Dave Andreychuk was the last one to do it, on Oct. 28, 1999.
Kalle Kossila, San Diego Gulls (AHL)
Kossila had a goal and six assists in three games for the Gulls last week, including a franchise-record performance with four assists in a 4-3 win over Texas. Granted, six of his seven points came on the power play, but points are points. You might also remember Kossila from our Goals of the Year countdown, where we lauded his lacrosse goal.
Lukas Craggs, Bowling Green (NCAA)
— MiHockey (@MiHockeyNow) January 3, 2018
Gabriel Vilardi, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Vilardi is a heck of a story. He was taken 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2017 NHL Draft. But a back injury, which he had suffered while playing for the Windsor Spitfires earlier that year, kept him out of game action for six months. The Kings cleared him to return to action … just in time for Windsor to trade him to Kingston.
Vilardi saw his first game action since last spring with a brand new team last weekend — and, as reader Billy Thee noted in his nomination, played three games in three days. Vilardi posted two goals and four assists during that span. “Not only did Vilardi not miss a step, he seems to be exceeding his already high expectations for the season,” said Thee.
Owen Tippett, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Two Ontario Hockey League players? Well, Tippett sorta forced our hands by scoring seven goals and adding three assists in three games last week. The Florida Panthers prospect has scored 17 goals with 19 assists for 36 points in 23 OHL games since Nov. 10. A player so good offensively that we full expect the Panthers to trade him to the Vegas Golden Knights at some point.
Matteo Gennaro, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Gennaro had seven goals and three assists in five games for the Broncos last week, with eight of those 10 points coming at even strength. He has torn it up for the Broncos since being acquired from Calgary in November, with 29 points in 17 games. He was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 2015. Fun fact: He’s former Oilers fan favorite Fernando Pisani’s cousin!
Pond Hockey Players During The Bomb Cyclone
Once in a while, we need to honor a group of players, and reader Chad Guo convinced us that this group was quite worthy:
The bomb cyclone wasn’t all bad. The cold blast froze bodies of water across the U.S., especially in places that don’t often see frozen ponds. This weekend, my buddies and I decided to take advantage of this in D.C. and play a little pond hockey at the Constitution Gardens Pond on the National Mall. Being from the deep South, this was my first time ever playing hockey outdoors, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had in DC!
If possible, I’d like to suggest honoring players of all ages and backgrounds who lived out their Winter Classic dreams this past week…and so I’ll nominate “Pond Hockey Players” as the Best Player of the World of the Week.
Indeed: Those of you who braved temperatures, ones so low that they made me curse my dog for having to walk her across the street, deserve this honor.
And the best player in the world of the week is …
Now, who is Diana Farkhutdinova?
She’s a 17-year-old goalie for Russia’s U18 women’s national team, was recently playing in the U18 world championships in Moscow. On Saturday, she helped make history: Farkhutdinova made 34 saves in a 3-2 win against Canada, including 15 in the third period. In the 10-year history of this tournament, Canada and the United States had defeated every opponent in the world — their only losses were when they’d play each other.
So Russia, led by Farkhutdinova, became the first European team to hand either of these superpowers a loss in this international tournament. As The Ice Garden, who hipped us to this story, noted: “The crowd counted down as the final seconds ticked away, and the Russian players mobbed Farkhutdinova, celebrating a historic victory for the Russian program and women’s hockey in general.”
Congrats to Diana Farkhutdinova, the best hockey player in the world of the week.