College hockey: Denver coach Jim Montgomery, Jarid Lukosevicius share a piece of history while earning a national title
They say history can repeat itself.
On Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago, that appeared to be the case when Denver defeated Minnesota Duluth 3-2 to win its eighth national championship thanks to left winger Jarid Lukosevicius tallying three goals and earning a hat trick to help the Pioneers secure their first national title since 2005.
The last hat trick in an NCAA championship game?
Well, that would come from Denver’s head coach Jim Montgomery back in 1993 when Maine defeated Lake Superior State 5-4 to win the national title.
Lukosevicius followed in his coach's footsteps, and although he never envisioned joining his coach on this hat trick list, his name went into the record books on Saturday. After the game, Lukosevicius was asked if his coach happened to give him advice on recording a hat trick in a title game. The sophomore said he didn’t, but simply reminded the team to stick to the process.
Despite not knowing about how the two now share this unique championship moment, Lukosevicius knew how to get a laugh from the media.
“I guess it's my turn to start balding,” he said in the post game press conference.
The left winger’s first goal came at 4:44 in the second period to open up scoring. Then, just 16 seconds later Lukosevicius would score again to give the Pioneers a two-goal lead.
The Pioneers appeared to be cruising, but Alex Iafallo got the Bulldogs on the board at 7:16, after Joey Anderson fed the forward a nice pass right in front of Denver goaltender Tanner Jalliet, who couldn’t make the pad save.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 9, 2017
Denver Pioneers pic.twitter.com/SAfN4svI53
The Bulldogs were unable to celebrate for long. At 12:33 in the second period, Lukosevicius would record the hat trick, scoring his third goal of the game.
After the goal, the United Center video board shared that Montgomery was the last player to record a hat trick in a championship game. Montgomery said he was focused on what was happening on the ice and didn’t get to see the video board.
“The players were asking me if I saw the board, and I said 'I'm staying in the moment,'” Montgomery said. “My eyes were staying below the board. I didn't know they meant the scoreboard. So I did not know. I did not know there was another — that's the first hat trick. But I'm glad I'm part of both, and I'm glad we won the championship on both nights.”
Leading by two goals, a scary moment occurred on the ice when Pioneer defenseman Tariq Hammond crashed into the boards injuring his ankle. After the injury, UMD would inch closer to a tie when Riley Tufte scored with 14:39 in the third period.
“I mean, it's terrible when a teammate and brother goes off like that. [Tariq] battled all year and that game especially with a play like that. It was very tough. Like we said, we knew they were going to come with a push. It was the last game of the season. So everybody was going to come with a push in that kind of situation,” Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher said. “But we just stuck with it. Might not have played our best period, but we just stuck with it, relied on [Jaillet] to make some saves back there and just tried to play defensively as well.”
The Pioneers said they found motivation in wanting to win the title for Hammond, and they did just that.
Using crutches and wearing a boot on his ankle, the injured Hammond celebrated with his team on the ice as they lifted that trophy.
Tariq Hammond...— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 9, 2017
A true warrior staying to hoist the with his teammates. pic.twitter.com/sIjnGzbDll
“We wouldn't be here without him. He's my best friend. He's a battler,” Jaillet said. “It's unfortunate he went down. But it's awesome he stuck around and was able to celebrate with us.”
Despite the loss of Hammond, the Pioneers still managed to leave Chicago with some hardware, some new notes for the history books and memories that will certainly last a while.
“As a coach, it's an incredible feeling [to win]. And you're more proud of your student-athletes and how they've grown and how they seized the moment,” Montgomery said. “And being part of that and being able to lead that group, so to speak, as the head coach, it's an incredible feeling of pride that we were able to do this and to be able to lead a group like Shawn Walsh did, who is a mentor of mine...These young men I know will be friends for life and they'll be proud Pioneers for the rest of their life.”