Denver wins the National Championship
On Saturday in Chicago, The University of Denver Pioneers defeated NCHC rival Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 in the Frozen Four Final to take home the teams eighth NCAA Hockey National Championship and first since 2005. The two teams traded back and forth as the top ranked team in the USCHO Top 20 Poll all season, and were the top two seeds heading into the tournament, making for a truly best-on-best final that did not disappoint.
The first period of the game was a feeling out process for both Denver and Minnesota-Duluth, as the Pioneers won the shots battle 13-10. Action ramped up in the second, with sophomore Jarid Lukosevicius opening the scoring, and then scoring his second of the game just 16 seconds later to boost Denver to a 2-0 lead. Minnesota-Duluth senior and unsigned free agent Alex Iafallo scored to pull the Bulldogs back within one on the power play a few short minutes later, only to see Lukosevicius complete his second period hat trick before the end of the period to give his team a 3-1 lead going into the final stanza.
Goaltender Tanner Jaillet shut the door in the third period, allowing just one goal, a Riley Tufte marker with just over five minutes remaining, despite being peppered with 17 shots in the period. Jaillet stopped 38 shots in total, putting an exclamation point on a terrific junior season where he posted a 1.84 goals against average and a .929% save percentage in 38 total starts.
The National Championship win by Denver ties them with rival North Dakota with eight championships, just one behind leader Michigan.
Will Butcher wins the Hobey Baker Award
Denver's stud senior captain took home the Hobey Baker Award this season as the NCAA's Top Collegiate Hockey player. Butcher became the first defenseman to win the award since 2009, stopping a streak of seven straight forwards who have won in a row. The Wisconsin native capped off a great season where he tallied 37 points in 43 games, and provided much needed defensive leadership for his National Championship winning club.
Drafted by the Colorado in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Butcher has the option not to sign a contract with the Avalanche, and exercise his right to become a free agent. Colorado could use a player of his offensive abilities and leadership in their lineup and on their blue line, but a report that came out today did not sound good for the Avs chances of getting him under contract:
Final USCHO Top 20 – As of Apr. 10th
1. Denver (50) – 33-7-4
2. Minnesota-Duluth – 28-7-7
3. Harvard – 28-6-2
4. UMass-Lowell – 27-11-3
5. Notre Dame – 23-12-5
6. Boston University – 24-12-3
7. Minnesota – 23-12-3
8. Penn State – 25-12-2
9. North Dakota – 21-16-3
10. Western Michigan – 22-13-5
11. Union – 25-10-3
12. Air Force – 27-10-5
13. Cornell – 21-9-5
14. Ohio State – 21-12-6
15. Providence – 22-12-5
16. Boston College – 21-15-4
17. Wisconsin – 20-15-1
18. Vermont – 20-13-5
19. Michigan Tech – 23-15-7
20. Quinnipiac – 23-15-1
Read more: http://www.uscho.com/rankings/d-i-mens-poll/
Until next year college hockey fans!