The year in hockey was a great one in 2018 full of amazing victories like those of the Washington Capitals, Vegas Golden Knights, and even the U.S. women’s Olympic team. It was full of great individual stories as well including a cancer survivor, a town overcome by tragedy, and a star who finally earned the sport’s ultimate prize. Here’s the best in hockey in 2018.

The city of Humboldt in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan will never forget April 6. A bus carrying the city’s junior hockey team was hit by a tractor-trailer that had failed to yield at a flashing stop sign. Sixteen people, including the team’s coach, were killed and 13 more were injured as a result of the accident. NHL teams wore “Broncos” on their nameplates. A GoFundMe page raised over $15 million for the victims and their families. Head coach Darcy Haugan won the first-ever Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award at the annual NHL Awards ceremony held in Las Vegas.

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A ‘Gallant’ Effort
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant probably didn’t envision playing for a Stanley Cup in just the franchise’s first season. Gallant’s three-zone, fast, aggressive style led to an unprecedented Western Conference championship. The Knights lost to the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals, but Gallant pulled off one of the most remarkable coaching jobs in all of sports.

Lightning Nikita
From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of 2018, no player in the NHL has more points (122) than Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov. Last season, he became just the third player in Lightning franchise history to record a 100-point season. Kucherov currently leads the NHL in points this season with 63 heading into New Year’s Eve game with Anaheim. 

Olympic Gold
Maddie Rooney is a 20-year-old who grew up playing hockey on boys’ teams in Massachusetts. In February she stopped a shot by Canada’s Meghan Agosta to earn the U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey team its first gold medal since 1998. Rooney made 29 saves in the gold medal game, the last one being the most crucial. She became an instant celebrity appearing on Ellen and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

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Beat Cancer
New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle was diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Early in the 2018-19 season, Boyle found out his cancer was in remission. He announced it to his teammates and 12 days later recorded his first career hat trick in Pittsburgh on – it just doesn’t get any better than this – Hockey Fights Cancer Night. 

And the Winner Is...
For all the amazing performances and stories in 2018, there is something special about a 32-year-old who finally won his first Stanley Cup. Alex Ovechkin, who won his seventh goal-scoring title (which ties him with Bobby Hull for the most in NHL history), will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Until 2018, he did not have his name on a Stanley Cup. Ovechkin won the Maurice Richard Trophy once again leading the Washington Capitals to their first-ever Cup championship. Ovechkin scored 49 goals, which accounted for 19.1 percent of the Capitals’ total scoring. That was the highest point share in the NHL. 

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