Denver sophomore forward Jarid Lukosevicius, of Squamish, BC, took this point-blank pass from teammate Troy Terry, and scored his second goal in sixteen seconds, to put Denver up 2-0 over Minnesota-Duluth, en route to a 3-2 victory and winning the NCAA Championship Saturday night in Chicago.

Denver sophomore forward Jarid Lukosevicius, of Squamish, BC, took this point-blank pass from teammate Troy Terry (on his left) as both were speeding to the crease, and scored this goal, his second in sixteen seconds. in an unbelievable display of team play, to put Denver up 2-0 over Minnesota-Duluth, en route to a 3-2 win for the NCAA Championship, Saturday night.

College Hockey Update:  In the last post I said that something would have to give in the final game, given the different styles of play each team had exhibited in the first three games of the NCAA Tournament, and I was sort of right and I was sort of wrong; something gave from each team, not from one or the other.  The game started out Saturday night with Denver up to its usual antics, screaming down the ice, screaming through the zone, and managing to get the puck to someone with a decent angle on the net; early on it was Minnesota-Duluth doing the giving as Denver controlled the start of the game.  But Minnesota-Duluth was also pretty stingy inside their own zone, and while Denver fired of nine shots before Duluth had the chance to pull the trigger even once, Duluth managed to keep Denver out of the net.  What came next was Duluth turning the tide somewhat on Denver, though not quite as badly as Denver had leaned on Duluth to start; Duluth finished out the remainder of the first with ten shots to Denver’s four, for a first period total of thirteen for Denver, and ten for Duluth.  Nonetheless, Denver appeared to be more in charge of the pace and tempo of the first period, even when they were being outgunned later in the period.  The second period started out much as the first had, and it culminated in something of a double lightning strike.  First, a shot from the point by Michael Davies was redirected — in the air — by Jarid Lukosevicius, which happened so fast that it was probably nearly invisible to, and just about completely indefensible for, Duluth goalie Hunter Miska.  On the ensuing faceoff, with the puck in the Minnesota-Duluth zone, Denver’s Troy Terry came out from behind the net, and he started quickly up the ice and was defended as closely as bees on honey.

He managed an instantaneous turn, dead stop, and acceleration, back towards the net that shook his defender.  He then managed to elude another defender, get to the crease, and unbelievably passed the puck to the stick of Jarid Lukosevicius, which was only about a foot or two away, and Lukosevicius shot it in for the 2-0 Denver lead.  It was amazing for a couple of reasons:  First, 1/100th of a second later and it would have been too late to pass the puck, so Terry would have had to shoot it or skate across the crease; Second, that Lukosevicius understood that he might receive the puck that close, that fast, and have the composure to shoot it into the net.  It was amazing team play, almost as if they were reading each other’s minds.  This happened only sixteen seconds after his first goal, and just happens to be the shortest span between two goals for a single player ever in the NCAA Championship Game.  Minnesota-Duluth again managed to turn the tide in the period, and again even when it happened, it seemed as though Denver was more in control of the pace and tempo of the game.  Denver’s team is plenty big and plenty physical, but Duluth’s is a bit bigger and a bit more physical.  Duluth did  a great job of pressing the Denver players into the boards and separating them from the puck.  Their grinding style isn’t as elegant or as filled with surprises as is Denver’s, but it manages to be effective and it kept Denver from running away with the game, which is a good thing for Duluth, because after those two quick goals, one had to wonder.  In fact, only a couple of minutes later, Minnesota-Duluth had a power-play opportunity, and it only seemed fitting that their leader and star of the team, senior Alex Iafallo, of Eden, NY, was the one to score and quickly make a game of it again, at 2-1, Denver.

Then with five minutes left in the period, a Denver shot rebounded into the crease and Jarid Lukosevicius seemed to be on it about a quckly as the puck’s own shadow, and as it bounced up he flew into the creased, met it again in the air, and drove it in to give Denver a two-goal lead again at 3-1 with five minutes left in the second.  In the third play continued as it had in the first and the second, Denver flying, Duluth containing, and in the first three minutes each team had taken one shot.  Right at the three minute point, Tariq Hammond, of Calagary, ALB, a junior defenseman who had scored a goal and had two assists against Notre Dame on Thursday, slammed his ankle into the board behind the Denver net with his foot going the opposite way his body was going, and dislocated his ankle.  Play stopped for some time — I”d guess about ten minutes — before the medical team put him on a stretcher and off the ice.  It was sort of gross as you could see his skate pointed backwards at the bottom of his leg.  One could only hope that surgery could bring things back to normal and that this wouldn’t be a career-ending injury for Hammond.  Denver compensated by rotating his defensive partner into one of the other defensive pairings for the rest of the game.  Either that threw Denver off a bit, or Duluth elevated their game at that time, but Duluth looked like they went into high gear, out-shooting Denver 16-2 in the last seventeen minutes of the game, and they were able to keep the puck in the Denver zone most of that time.  With five minutes remaining in the game, Avery Peterson nearly scored when his shot rebounded off the post; but Riley Tufte was right there and pounced on the rebound and drove it in to make it a 3-2 game.

The Denver team mugs for the group shot Saturday night after beating Minnesota Duluth 3-2, winning the 2017 NCAA Championship Game in Chicago.

The Denver team mugs for the group shot Saturday night after beating Minnesota Duluth 3-2, to win the NCAA Championship.

Of course it was a feeding frenzy for the last five minutes, particularly when Duluth added an extra attacker in place of their goalie with a little less than two minutes left.  Duluth was ablaze on the ice and Denver’s goalie Tanner Jaillet was up to the task, even stopping what looked like the shot by Riley Tufte that would tie it at three apiece with just a few seconds left.  But it wasn’t to be for Duluth on this day as time ran out and the NCAA Championship was won by Denver.  After the Denver pandemonium on the ice settled down, the  mats came out on the ice, the table, and the trophy.  Jarid Lukosevicius was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player — five goals in his team’s four Tournament games, including a hat trick in the final championship game, scoring all three of his team’s three goals in their 3-2 final win.  Pretty hard to argue with this one.  And his hat trick in an NCAA Championship game is the first one since 1993, which was coincidentally tallied by Denver coach Mike Montgomery while playing for the University of Maine, as he led them to their 5-4 win over Lake Superior State and NCAA Championship; Montgomery was also named the MOP of that year’s tournament.  But that’s not all — as the presentation of the NCAA Championship trophy started, miraculously, Tariq Hammond came out onto the ice with his leg in a knee-high cast, on crutches.  Wow!  And you might have thought that only Minnesota Duluth was big on drama!  How in the world they got him to a hospital, re-located the dislocated ankle, got a cast on him and got him back in time for the presentation pretty much escapes me.  But it’s a cool ending to this game summary, don’t you think?

The Ever Important Pool

Wow!  Olivia Schreader closed the deal this time around.  So now she will shoulder the year-long responsibilities that come along with winning this title, and will no doubt endure the wrath of a hero-hungry press and paparazzi corps, while reaping the benefits of a life buried in an avalanche of good fortune, fame, notoriety and special privilege that befalls all winners of the coveted title.  Several years ago Olivia led out of the first weekend of the tournament, but was caught from behind.  This year she never had to look back with the stunning picks she made — thirteen correct picks out of fifteen possible — that tie her for the record high with 2014’s Erin Toohey, both also getting the winner in their respective year, and the extra point, which tie them for the highest point total ever in the College Hockey Update Pool, with fourteen.  Congratulations to Olivia. who only missed two picks:  Boston University beat North Dakota in the opening round, for her first miss, and her second miss was not picking her alma mater, Notre Dame, to make it to the Frozen Four (and neither did anyone else in the pool), having picked Lowell instead.  Of course this means Olivia did pick Notre Dame over Minnesota in the first round, something that only seven participants did out of forty-seven in this year’s pool.

Olivia showed amazing restraint in not picking her alma mater to win it all, or to make it to the final championship game.  More on this later, below.  I should point out a couple of other participants who did very, very well in the pool.  In second place was Bill Hollywood, who was one single point behind Olivia, with twelve correct points, and the bonus point for having picked Denver as well.  And in third place was last year’s winner, Jim Esposito, just another point behind, with eleven correct picks and  the bonus point for having picked Denver too.  Two pretty darn good years in a row for Jim Esposito, and for his nephew, Luke, on the Harvard team as well.  In a conference call with the Schreader Family Sunday night, Olivia offered these thoughts and insights, “Well first of all,” she said, “I was very tempted to take Notre Dame further.  But I am extremely connected in the hockey world, and I had found out right as I was submitting my picks at the deadline that Connor Hurley, perhaps the true team leader and one of our best players, would be dismissed from the team for not hitting the books. and therefore grades.  You can’t take away a guy who accounts for that much chemistry on the team and expect miracles, so I took them over Minnesota, which I saw as a slam-dunk anyway, but I stopped there.  In the long run it doesn’t seem to have hurt me!”

Meanwhile I could overhear her father, Greg Schreader on his cell phone in the background, calling relatives in Minnesota (Greg is from Minnesota), and in the Chicago area (Olivia is in the Chicago area).  When I asked Greg what that was all about, he was effusive, “I just called our family and friends about this, this is huge!  Olivia is getting married in August in Indiana, and I just told everyone that we are heading back to Chicago so we can be there right after Olivia receives her trophy in the mail.  I told everyone, heck with making a trip to the wedding, if you have to pick one, be there for this, it’s the grand prize for the College Hockey Update Pool!  I just made the payment for eight cases of Krug Grand Cuvee Champagne for the wedding, but I just now got off the phone with them too, and I’m having it delivered for this instead.  I told them we’d just get Cook’s or Tott’s for the wedding.  When they asked me why, I told them what Olivia had done, and they couldn’t believe it.  They asked if they could be there for the party for the College Hockey Update Pool.  Can you imagine?  They can go to the wedding, but I don’t want those bozos hanging around at this party!  Who would ever have thought that our amazing daughter Olivia could do something like this?!  Wow, does this put a lot of undue pressure on our son.  Poor guy.”

So we actually had forty-seven in the pool this year (only one behind our record of 48, set last year), not forty six as I had originally reported.  There was one more participant, Tom Breen, who had sent in an email containing his picks that I overlooked; he had also taken Denver to go all the way and he has an affinity for Denver because a cousin of his used to teach Art History there.  Tom is something of an artist himself and used to create flame art when he was in college, something that should only be undertaken in the proper types of facilities, and with the proper training and qualifications.

Final Pool Standings

Winner, Olivia Schreader   13 correct picks, 14 total points — ties record set by Erin Toohey

12 Picks, 13 Points   Hollywood

11 Picks, 12 Points   Esposito

10 Picks, 11 Points   Breen, Kriesel, O’Brien

9 Picks, 10 Points   Kramer, Rarden, Schmidt, Sell

10 Picks, 10 Points   Peterson, Reichel, Schwictenberg

8 Picks, 9 Points   Allen, Bricknell, Naughton, O’Connell, GgSchreader

9 Picks, 9 Points   Huberty, Ide, McLean, Ryan, JSchreader, Shimshock, Slaughter, Thorsen

8 Picks, 8 Points   Cattermole, Erdman, Kristie, Mattson, TShymanski, Wienbar

6 Picks, 7 Points   Pastor

7 Picks, 7 Points   Bettendorf, Fairbrother, Holte, Krajan, DShymanski, GnSchreacer, Sempere

6   Speare

5   Bogosian, Kisner, Ramsey, Rugani

4   Michela

3   Cook

Again, congratulations to Olivia Schreader.  Your thirteen picks and fourteen points both tie you for the highest ever with Erin Toohey, who first set the record in 2014.  Olivia, your sweatshirt — yes, I said sweatshirt, because one was made this year and I found it —  is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, and will be taken in for application of the custom College Hockey Update logo immediately upon its arrival.  It will probably be put in the mail to you in about a ten days to two weeks.  As usual it was ordered in the largest size available, so as I understand Erin uses hers, it might be more of an oversized night shirt for you.  And, as a special recognition of your great restraint in not picking your alma mater, you will receive an extremely rare (for CHU to do this, that is) additional prize.  And what else would be more appropriate than a Notre Dame hooded sweatshirt as well?  Per usual, the board of directors insisted that we buy the largest size available, and it has been ordered and is on the way.  We will ship them to you together.

Well, it’s over.  What a great season.  Thanks to you all for coming along for the ride, particularly the forty-sevem who entered the pool.  And thanks to my behind the scenes contributors who know a whole lot more about hockey than I do, and who give me insights and technical clarifications from time to time — John McLean, Greg Schreader, and Bruce Carlisle.  And thanks to anyone else who chimed in with a helpful tidbit — I know there were a couple, and I am not remembering who you are right now!

So, that’s all for now.  Stay tuned, and go Terriers, go College Hockey!

— Tom