Denver Pioneers: College Hockey National Champions
Denver withstood a late Bulldogs rally to win their eighth national championship.
Congratulations are in order for the Denver Pioneers, the college hockey national champions for the 2016-17 season.
The Pios claimed their eighth national championship by defeating in-conference rival Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night in Chicago, 3-2.
This was Denver’s first national championship in hockey since 2005 under George Gwozdecky. Jim Montgomery bagged his first title as a collegiate head coach.
Denver Pioneers: Path To Victory
Coach Montgomery can thank Jarid Lukosevicius for the offense in this title run for the Pios. The sophomore forward from British Columbia potted not one, not two, but three goals in Denver’s victory. Accounting for all of the offense is one thing, but a hat trick to win the natty is impressive.
Goalie Tanner Jaillet did the rest. Jaillet stuffed a respectable Minnesota-Duluth offense, holding them to just two goals on 40 shots. The Bulldogs got one late to make it a 3-2 contest while the Pioneers desperately tried to hold on. Despite the flurry of activity, the Pios stood their ground.
Unlike what we saw in the college basketball national championship less than a week ago, the whistles were tucked away. Only three penalties were called the entire game — two on the Bulldogs, and one on the Pioneers. The kids were let to play, and both teams put up a fine effort.
Yet, there is no doubt that the Denver Pioneers were the best team all season. They had the right mixture of offense, defense, and coaching. Denver is home to the Hobey Baker Award winner, Will Butcher, who made it two trophies in two nights. They barely dropped at all in the rankings at any point, and both began and ended this tournament at number one.
Denver did lose a defenseman, Tariq Hammond, to a bad injury in the third period but persevered. The Bulldogs gave it everything they had in the third period and are to be commended for an excellent season.