CHICAGO– At the United Center, Jarid Lukosevicius scored three goals in the second period, and Denver beat Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in front of 19,783 on Saturday night for the NCAA championship. Denver advanced to the decisive game by overwhelming host Notre Dame, 6-1.
Minnesota-Duluth (28-7-7) got to the title game by nipping Harvard 2-1. Both teams in the championship game were member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC).
In the final, junior goalie Tanner Jaillet made a season high 38 saves for Denver (33-7-4). He was the difference maker coming down the stretch. Denver’s defense has been exceptional all season as they led the nation, allowing only 1.81 goals per game.
It was the Pioneers offensive depth that overwhelmed so effectively. They had four lines of scoring power. In addition, they consistently came right at their opposition. Denver was 25-0-1 this season when it scored first.
Denver managed to hold off the late charge by Minnesota Duluth in front of 19,783 — the second-largest crowd to watch a national championship game. With 1:44 remaining in the game, Hunter Miska was pulled for an extra attacker and the Bulldogs sent several shots on net. It was an exciting finish as Jaillet made save after save, including a spectacular sprawling leg pad save. ‘They were coming strong. They were throwing the kitchen sink at us,’ Jaillet said. “Our guys had huge blocks, making plays. We were able to weather that storm and obviously come out with the win.”
Terry had two nifty assists for the winners.
Tariq Hammond, who was taken off the ice in a terrible collision hobbled out to celebrate with his jubilant teammates. The junior defenseman just kept exclaiming, “We did it.”
Jaillet earned All-Tournament Team honors. Lukosevicius was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four after his hat trick. Terry and senior defenseman Butcher also join in getting the honor. Minnesota Duluth sophomore defenseman Neal Pionk and senior Alex Iafallo rounded out the All-Tournament Team.
Freshman sensation Henrik Borgström boosted Denver’s offense this season. Borgström is tied for the team lead with 43 points. Troy Terry had 43 points, Dylan Gambrell 41 and blue liner Will Butcher 37.
The Pioneers also made it to the Frozen Four last year, but lost 4-2 to North Dakota. Denver last won in 2005. They have moved into a tie with North Dakota for second on the NCAA list with eight men’s ice hockey titles, trailing only Michigan with nine.
University of Denver coach Jim Montgomery was chosen as the recipient of the Spencer Penrose Award as college hockey’s national coach of the year. A native son of Montreal, Quebec, as a player, Montgomery also won a national title during his senior season at Maine in 1993. He was the last player to score a hat trick in the national title game before Lukosevicius did it Saturday night.
Butcher was named the Hobey Baker Award winner the day before the championship game.