By Parker Gainsburg, Maxwell Elam and Dylan Bosse
MAR 29, 2017
The day was Saturday, the eighth of April, tensions were high and two exceptional hockey teams battled it out for the NCAA Hockey Championship. After a long season, the annual tournament narrowed down the competition to the University of Denver Pioneers and The University of Minnesota Duluth. The Pioneers were led to victory by defenseman Will Butcher, who won the Hobey Baker Award. However, at the conclusion of the game, the team’s championship title was unexpectedly attributed to forward Jarid Lukosevicius.
Following an uneventful first period, the game’s first goal was scored by Denver Pioneer Lukosevicius with fifteen minutes remaining in the second period. Just sixteen seconds later, Lukosevicius struck again, granting the Pioneers a two goal lead. Soon after, Bulldogs forward Alex Iafallo scored, cutting the lead to 2-1. Pressures arose when Lukosevicius came back barely five minutes later for a third goal, placing the Pioneers in a 3-1 lead.
Heading back out onto the ice for the third period, the Bulldogs looked determined to make a comeback. When Pioneer defenseman Tariq Hammond broke his ankle early in the third period, the Bulldogs anticipated easily overcoming the deficit. Without the Pioneers’ junior defenseman, the Bulldogs’ Riley Tufte was able to score and force the Pioneers into panic mode. Fortunately for the Pioneers, goalie Tanner Jaillet stayed strong and closed the game out with a final score of 3-2, securing the Pioneers their eighth national championship.
When the game concluded, Tariq Hammond joined his teammates on the ice for the postgame celebration, despite his injury. While the entire team was recognized for this achievement, the spotlight shone brightly on Jarid Lukosevicius. After his outstanding performance, Lukosevicius joined the elite group of players, including his coach Jim Montgomery, who have scored hat tricks in championship games. On a similar note, Lukosevicius and Montgomery have both received Tournament Most Outstanding Player award, in their respective championship years. Denver’s overall performance not only maintained their athletic prestige, but also paved the way for a promising future for Lukosevicius.