Denver downs UMD for Frozen Four title
CHICAGO — There was not one last magical ending left for Minnesota Duluth.
The University of Denver held off a frantic third-period charge to beat Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in the NCAA Frozen Four national championship game Saturday night in Chicago's United Center.
Denver sophomore forward Jarid Lukosevicius tallied a hat trick in the second period and goaltender Tanner Jaillet, who won the Mike Richter Award as college hockey's best netminder a day earlier, stopped 38 shots, including 16 in the third period alone.
The Pioneers, who were ousted in the Frozen Four semifinals a year ago, won their eighth national title and first since 2005.
The eighth title ties the Pioneers for second all-time with North Dakota, one behind Michigan's nine.
Minnesota Duluth, which won four straight games in the final minute of regulation or in overtime, nearly did it again in the final.
But the Pioneers (33-7-4) managed to hold off the late charge in front of 19,783 — the second-largest crowd to watch a national championship game.
Denver coach Jim Montgomery won his first national championship as a coach.
Montgomery also won one as a player. In fact, he was the last player to tally a hat trick in the national title game before Lukosevicius did it Saturday night.
The national championship game featured two teams who were at the top of the rankings virtually all season long.
Either Minnesota Duluth or Denver has held down the No. 1 spot in the national poll for 18 of the 20 weeks since late October — the Bulldogs for 11 weeks and the Pioneers for seven weeks.
Minnesota Duluth and Denver only played one series during the regular season—the teams split in Denver in December.
Denver started the game with tons of pressure, outshooting Minnesota Duluth 8-0 in the opening 6:30 and hitting two posts, but the Pioneers didn't get on the board until the second period.
Lukosevicius scored twice in the span of 16 seconds to put the Pioneers ahead by two.
At 4:44 of the second, Pioneer defenseman Michael Davies launched a point shot that Lukosevicius deflected past Minnesota Duluth goalie Hunter Miska for the game's first goal.
On the next shift, Pioneer forward Troy Terry carried the puck from behind the net to the left circle, made a spin move to create space, then centered it to Lukosevicius on top of the crease.
The Bulldogs moved within a goal when they converted their first power-play chance of the game at 7:16.
Rookie forward Joey Anderson, standing in the left circle, centered a pass to the top of the crease, where senior Alex Iafallo re-directed it with his backhand to make it 2-1.
But Lukosevicius answered again with his hat trick goal, burying a rebound in a scramble in the slot area at 12:23.
Early in the third period, Denver lost junior defenseman Tariq Hammond to a gruesome right ankle or leg injury. He went into the end wall with Bulldog center Jared Thomas and Hammond had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.
After the injury, the Bulldogs poured on the pressure.
They made it a one-goal game with 5:21 to go when Avery Peterson collected a puck in the right circle and fired it off the post. The rebound dropped in the crease, where Riley Tufte hammered it in to make it 3-2.