Three goals in one period. It’s referred to as a “natural hat trick.” It’s a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in a national championship game since 1993. That is until University of Denver sophomore Jarid Lukosevicius did it Saturday night to help the Pioneers win their 8th national championship.
The man nicknamed “Luko” set a championship game record for fastest 2 goals by the same player when he scored twice in 16 seconds to give Denver a 2-0 lead over Minnesota Duluth.
The first goal opened the scoring nearly five minutes into the second period, and ended some frustration for DU. The Pioneers hit two posts in a matter of seconds in the first period and couldn’t find a way to beat Bulldogs freshman goaltender Hunter Miska.
Lukosevicius was far from done. 16 seconds after his first goal, a terrific effort from fellow winger Troy Terry led to a loose puck in front that Luko buried again.
The Bulldogs cut the lead in half with a power play goal from Alex Iafallo, but Lukosevicius brought the lead back to two by completing his natural hat trick with his third goal of the second period. 24 years between hat tricks in the national championship game, and the last guy to do it also happened to be in the building on Saturday night in Chicago – DU head coach Jim Mongtomery.
He did it for the University of Maine, leading the Black Bears to the title over Lake Superior State. Coach still has bragging rights as he scored his three goals in under five minutes, while it took “Luko” more than seven.
The Pioneers--led by junior goaltender Tanner Jaillet--fought off a furious Minnesota Duluth attack in the 3rd period and won 3-2.
The celebration was almost subdued. Defenseman Tariq Hammond suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury a couple of minutes into the third period. The junior went hard in to the boards and his leg buckled underneath him. He was immediately put on a stretcher and carted off the ice.
But, not wanting to miss out on the party, Hammond limped onto the ice to join his teammates in the trophy celebration.
For the Pioneers, it’s their first title since 2005, and caps off a sweep of honors for the team. Head coach Jim Montgomery was named the coach of the year. Tanner Jaillet was awarded the Mike Richter trophy as the nation’s top goaltender. Captain Will Butcher won the Hobey Baker award, given to college hockey’s most outstanding player.
But, the National Championship was the main goal. And, it completes a terrific season for the Pioneers. They finish the year 33-7-4, and will have a banner to raise at Magness Arena later this year.