Saturday, April 8, 2017

Denver Wins 2017 NCAA Men's Hockey Title

For the first time since 2005 and the eighth time overall, the University of Denver Pioneers are the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey national champions. DU held on for a 3-2 win over the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night in the national title game at the United Center in Chicago.

Following a scoreless first period, Denver junior forward Jarid Lukosevicius tallied a pair of goals 16 seconds apart to put DU ahead, 2-0. After senior forward Alex Iafallo got the Bulldogs within one score with a power-play goal, Lukosevicius connected again from short range to complete the first hat trick in a Division I men's hockey national title game since Denver head coach Jim Montgomery did the same as a player for NCAA champion Maine in 1993.

Freshman forward Riley Tufte put home a rebound late in the third period to again bring the Bulldogs back within a goal, but UMD couldn't gain the equalizer despite pulling freshman goaltender Hunter Miska (25 saves) for an extra attacker with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Junior netminder Tanner Jaillet, the 2017 winner of the Mike Richter Award as the nation's top goaltender, finished with 38 stops for the Pioneers, who were outshot, 17-3, in the third period after junior defenseman Tariq Hammond was injured, although he returned for the postgame celebration. UMD outshot DU on the night, 40-28.

Denver captain and 2017 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Will Butcher completed his career with a national championship after DU was eliminated in the NCAA semifinals last year by North Dakota. Denver's senior class finished with 102 total victories in its four campaigns and made the NCAA tournament all four years, with DU now having made the NCAAs nine straight seasons overall.

Denver's most recent NCAA titles came back-to-back in 2004 and 2005. The Pioneers' eighth national title all-time ties them for second place overall with National Collegiate Hockey Conference rival North Dakota, which won the national championship last year. Michigan leads all-time with nine NCAA crowns. UMD, the NCHC's playoff champion, was seeking its second NCAA championship in school history. Denver was the NCHC's regular-season king, and held the No. 1 overall ranking in the country entering the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The 2018 Frozen Four will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., the first time it will be held in Minnesota since UMD won the 2011 title.

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