April 8, 2017
by Mike Chambers, The Denver Post
CHICAGO — Jim Montgomery scored three consecutive third-period goals for a natural hat trick that lifted Maine to the 1993 national championship. The Black Bears’ senior captain was named Frozen Four MVP.
Twenty-four years later, Montgomery pleasantly watched one of his pupils nearly match his extraordinary feat on college hockey’s biggest stage. Behind the bench at the United Center, Coach Montgomery on Saturday witnessed sophomore wing Jarid Lukosevicius score three goals in the second period to lead the Denver Pioneers to their eighth national championship, and first since 2005.
In a No. 1 versus No. 2 national championship, the top-ranked University of Denver held on to defeat Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in a thrilling final and Lukosevicius was the easy choice for Frozen Four MVP.
“Incredible moment,” Montgomery said of winning the all-National Collegiate Hockey Conference final. “I did not know that was the first hat trick (since 1993) but I’m glad I’m part of both and glad we won the championship both nights.”
Lukosevicius entered the game as DU’s fifth-leading scorer with 13 goals in 42 games. He scored twice in 16 seconds Saturday and his hat trick unfolded in a span of 7:39 — third fastest in championship-game history — to give the Pioneers a 3-1 lead midway through the second period. Montgomery owns the record for quickest title-game hat trick, doing it in 4:35 in ’93 — the last time anyone scored three goals in this situation.
“That’s pretty ironic, Lukosevicius said.
“Thanks to my linemates Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell,” Lukosevicius said of his big night. “I pretty much just stood in front of the net and got three lucky goals. ‘Gams’ and Troy did an incredible job and I wouldn’t have scored any of those goals without those guys.”
Denver’s #Skate4Eight slogan was established a year ago, shortly after North Dakota defeated the Pioneers en route to winning its eighth national title. Denver slid to third on the list, stuck on seven.
Now it’s eight, one behind Michigan’s record of nine, and the curve chart under Montgomery has become legend.
The Pioneers (33-7-4) have advanced one step further every year under Montgomery, whose first DU team lost in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament to finish 20-16-6.
The Pioneers were eliminated in the 2015 quarterfinals (finishing 24-14-2) and 2016 national semifinals (25-10-6).
Jarid Lucksevicius, Career Stats
1995-02-04, Squamish, BC, Age 22, 5.10″, 185, shoots left