The Denver Pioneers are once again national champions.
The top-seeded Pioneers defeated second-seeded Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in the NCAA national championship game Saturday to win their first national title in 12 years.
Sophomore forward Jarik Lukosevicius scored all three goals for the Pioneers. His first two came within 16 seconds of each other in the second period. The first was a deflection that snuck past Bulldogs goalie Hunter Miska.
Seconds later, he took advantage of Troy Terry making a couple guys miss and buried another one.
Minnesota-Duluth’s Alex Iafallo scored to get the Bulldogs within a goal. But then Lukosevicius struck again in front of a crowded net to make it 3-1.
The Pioneers would survive Riley Tufte’s third-period goal to win the game 3-2.
Lukosevicius’s hat trick was the first in a national championship game since Denver coach Jim Montgomery did it for Maine in 1993. Montgomery, who won college hockey’s coach of the year award earlier this week, guided the Pioneers to a championship in his fourth season with the team. Denver made the Frozen Four under his guidance last year but fell to eventual national champion North Dakota.
Pioneers goaltender Tanner Jaillet saved 38 of 40 shots that came his way Saturday.
This was Denver’s eighth national championship.
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