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.
Izzy Palumbo, Golden Rockets
Palumbo was the winning goalie in the Rockets’ 7-4 win over the Columbia Valley Rockies in a boys Junior B game during the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. This win was notable because Palumbo is just 15 years old, saving shots fired by some players who were 20-year-old men.
This was also notable because the winning goalie in this boys’ junior game was not, in fact, a boy.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Palumbo could be the youngest girl to ever suit up for a junior league game in Canada, which is a rarity in itself unless your name is Shannon Szabados. But she’s played at other levels against boys, and was unfazed by the challenge after some butterflies in warmups.
An affiliate player, Palumbo was practicing with the team for over a month and coach Jason Stevens decided she had earned a shot. “If you can play, you can play. The gap between the boys’ game and the girls’ game is changing. Goaltending-wise, you see more and more, girls are playing it at a higher and higher level,” he told the Sun. “Our league is about developing players. Helping them find their way as a player.”
McIntyre stopped all 55 shots he faced in posting back-to-back shutouts for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate, and they needed him to be that good. His team won 1-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, ending the Penguins’ eight-game winning streak, and then got a 2-0 victory over Springfield. Quality netminding from the North Dakota alum, overcoming a lack of goal support.
Anthony Imburone, Doris and the Whale Sharks
Reader and beer league motivational master Michael Cleary sends in this nomination:
“Our ‘C’ league beer league team plays out of Rochester, Michigan, at the Onyx Ice Arena. Our team name is Doris and the Whale Sharks.
“Recently, one of our forwards, Anthony Imburone, had a breakaway opportunity. He is a smart hockey player, but not exactly the most fleet of foot on the ice. Often falling on his own accord, like a baby giraffe full of grace. Two to three times per game on average.
“On this breakaway attempt, for some reason, his thought process took him into putting the puck in between his legs and trying a little trickeration on his attempt. He tripped over his own stick and the goalie covered the puck. Both benches had a pretty good laugh.
“After the game, we were all razzing him a bit about it and I bet him $20 that he wouldn’t score on his next breakaway. We shook hands and agreed. I figured it was a win-win for me. If he doesn’t score, I get $20 and if he does, the team has a better chance of winning.
“On Sunday, he had a breakaway and roofed it top right. Nothing fancy, a quick shot. He turned towards our bench and flashed a classic Johnny Manziel money sign. Great motivation and coaching on my part.”
Mike Babcock needs to take notes from this guy.
Matt Jurusik, Sioux City Musketeers
The goalie went 2-0-0 in USHL action, with a 1.00 GAA and a .978 save percentage. He makes the cut here in our nominations for a 53-save effort he made on Saturday against the Fargo Force, in which he only gave up one goal. He also stopped 34 of 35 shots the night before. He made waves last season when he left the University of Wisconsin for the USHL, claiming he wanted more playing time.
In other words, Jurusik didn’t want to be … parked, on the bench. I’m Greg Wyshynski, ESPN.
Jordan Kyrou, Sarnia Sting
Kyrou had 11 points in just three games for the OHL’s Sting last week, with two goals and nine assists for a plus-6 rating. His goal and two assists helped Sarnia end Sault Ste. Marie’s 29-game point streak. He’s captured the OHL player of the week award twice this season, the only player who can make that boast. He was drafted No. 35 overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2016, four spots ahead of Blackhawks winger — and former OHL standout — Alex DeBrincat.
MacKinnon had four goals and two assists in three games, which included the game-winning goals in the Avs’ wins over the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers. In their win over the San Jose Sharks, MacKinnon had two goals and an assist, which is his eighth game this season with at least three points. For helping the Avalanche to a 10-game winning streak and for propelling himself to the front of the line for the Hart Trophy, Nathan MacKinnon gets a nomination.
But, the best player in the world of the week is …
Filip Nyberg of Goldsmiths SK’s under-15 team
Now, who is Filip Nyberg?
He’s a 14-year-old player in Sweden who has 43 goals in 17 games. But he earns the top spot this week not because of his total goals, but because of three specific ones. Nyberg tallied a hat trick in just 12 seconds during the first period of a game on Saturday, which left many wondering if it was the fastest hat trick of all time.
It was, in fact, two seconds short of a world record. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Jorgen Palmgren Erichsen scored three goals in just 10 seconds in a Norwegian junior hockey game in March 1991.
(For those wondering: Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks owns the record for fastest hat trick in NHL history, with three goals in 21 seconds, set on March 23, 1952.)
Said Nyberg of his near-record hat trick, to Aftonbladet: “I had no idea about that. It’s just quite sick.”
Indeed it is. For this near-record performance, Filip Nyberg is the best player in the world of the week. (Thanks to reader Jiří Vítek for the heads up.)