Jarid Lukosevicius grabbed the moment and entered forever into the lore of the NCAA’s Frozen Four as he scored a natural hat trick – all his team’s goals – in a 3-2 victory for the University of Denver over their conference rival University of Minnesota-Duluth Saturday at Chicago’s United Center.
A sophomore for the Pioneers, Lukosevicius enjoyed a productive second season in college hockey but cranked things up in the NCAA tournament with five goals in four games. He notched the game-winner in the quarterfinals, a 6-3 win over Penn State, and scored his hat trick in the span of 7:39 – the first two coming 16 seconds apart – in the national title game to give the Pioneers the eighth NCAA championship in program history.
The Squamish native, who played two seasons with the Powell River Kings and was named to the BCHL All-Rookie team in 2014, is part of a dynamic class of sophomores at Denver that includes Anaheim Ducks draft pick Troy Terry and San Jose Sharks draft pick Dylan Gambrell. Lukosevicius played on the same line as his more-heralded cohorts and while he stole the show Saturday, he was quick to share the glory.
“Thanks to my linemates Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell,” Lukosevicius said to the Denver Post after the game. “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.”
Lukosevicius is the first player to score a hat trick in a national title game since 1993. The previous player to do so? Current Pioneers head coach Jim Montgomery, who turned the trick for the University of Maine when they won it all that season.
“Incredible moment,” Montgomery told the Post. “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.”
Montgomery retains bragging rights to some extent as his hat trick, also natural, came in a span of just 4:35 in the third period as Maine came back to defeat Lake Superior State 5-4.
This final was also the first time since ’93 that the top-two overall seeds met in the final. Denver achieved their #SkateFor8 slogan they’d been aiming for since losing to North Dakota in the national semifinals a year ago.
Lukosevicius wound up third in goals and fifth in points for Denver on the season. He is one of three BCHL alums on the Pioneers along with Liam Finlay and Adam Plant. Lukosevicius recorded 59-76-135 in 116 BCHL games over two full seasons and part of a third as an affiliate with Powell River.