Denver wins 2017 NCAA hockey tournament championship

A second period hat trick from Jarid Lukosevicius was just enough to lift Denver over Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 for their eighth NCAA hockey tournament championship.

Denver was far-and-away the NCAA’s best team this year with a 31-7-4 record, and they they breezed through the tournament without much trouble. The tournament final, however, was a different story.

The Pioneers started the game strong, dominating the shot chart with the game’s opening five shots. Though the game was scoreless after one, Minnesota-Duluth took control of play in the final half of the period.

In the second frame, it took 16 seconds for Lukosevicius and the Pioneers to go up 2-0. First, Lukosevicius redirected Michael Davies’ point shot in front of the net to draw first blood.

Lukosevicius scores on a redirect to give Denver a 1-0 lead lover UMD pic.twitter.com/fMnmify0oK

— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 9, 2017

Then, thanks to the skill of Troy Terry — remember him from the World Juniors? — Lukosevicius got his second five minutes into the middle frame.

Lukosevicius scores again just 16 secs later and UMD is down 2-0 to Denver pic.twitter.com/bqEzA0hdQk

— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 9, 2017

The Bulldogs showed life with a power play goal two minutes later from Alex Iafallo that cut the deficit to 2-1.

However, Lukosevicius would not be denied the second period hat trick at the 12 minute mark of the frame.

Lukosevicius completes the hat trick on a rebound, Denver leads UMD 3-1 pic.twitter.com/r2k2TWrNNn

— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 9, 2017

Denver dominated the rest of the way, until a horrific injury to Tariq Hammond derailed the game in the third period. Hammond crashed into the boards and bent his ankle in a way no leg should go, and he was stretchered off the ice

The momentum then shifted as Denver was clearly rocked by Hammond’s injury. Riley Tufte scored for Minnesota-Duluth with 5:21 to play, cutting the lead back to one with a key 3-2 strike.

Tufte gets hit with a rebound off the post and buries it, UMD now down 3-2 to Denver late in the 3rd pic.twitter.com/yXKmJMU7vI

— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 9, 2017

Denver was able to hold the lead in the final moments, however, for their first NCAA championship since 2005.

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