Championship Notebook: Jaillet The Best Denver Can Get
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CHICAGO Minnesota-Duluth poured on the pressure in the third period of Saturday night's national championship game. Trailing by two goals, the Bulldogs outshot Denver 17-3 and registered the last nine Grade-A scoring chances of the game in trying to tie the score.
All the while, Denver goalie Tanner Jaillet was passing every test. Shots from the point were eaten up by his midsection. Tipped shots on front were being directed safely to the corner off his pads.
The Bulldogs were able to sneak one through, cutting the deficit to 3-2, but Jaillett wasn't going to give up another one. He locked down Denver's eighth national title.
"Thank God we have the Mike Richter Award winner," Denver coach Jim Montgomery said, "and everybody realizes why he won. He was incredible in the third period. His confidence and poise and how secure he was in controlling rebounds gave us confidence we were going to be able to prevail."
Jaillet was gracious after the game. Sitting in front of assembled media, with a long beard hiding most of his face, he tried his best to direct the praise on his teammates.
They weren't having any of it.
"I was just trying to make saves, put rebounds in the corner," he said. "Obviously I wasn't alone out there. My defense and forwards, they're blocking shots and making tons of plays for me and kept everything pretty much to the outside. That's all I can ask them to do. We did it as a team, and it's awesome."
Lukosevicius, A Star On The Mic
Jarid Lukosevicius scored three goals and won a national championship. But he was a superstar with the press in the post-game press conference.
When asked when he scored his last hat trick, he said, "Midget hockey. I didn't get one in Juniors. I wasn't that good. I don't know what Monty saw in me."
Later, he was asked if he knew about Montgomery's hat trick in the 1993 championship game for Maine.
"No, I didn't know it before," he said. "I guess it's my turn to start balding."
Before the players left the podium, they were asked what they said to fallen defenseman Tariq Hammond, who returned to the ice on crutches after suffering what appeared to be a broken ankle early in the third period.
"Beep, beep, beep, beep. Championship. That's the truth."
It's just a matter of time before Lukosevicius has a career in the media.
The Ultimate Team Player
Friday night, Butcher won the Hobey Baker Award, but he only had one thing in mind — get back to his teammates.
Montgomery said that he worried the individual awards given to his players — Jaillet also won the Mike Richter Award — might cloud their perspective. All season they've been focused on team first. But watching Butcher's reaction after the ceremony, Montgomery knew his team's priorities were well in order.
Montgomery credited former Pioneer captain Grand Arnold with helping him shape the Denver culture.
"He was an incredible captain for two years, it helped me change the culture into a selfless and about the team first and not about individuals," Montgomery said.
"I was worried yesterday with all those individual honors coming that we never thought about, and the emotion of it. When Will won the Hobey, it's an incredible moment. I'm wondering, 'here's our best defenseman, is he going to have legs tomorrow night?'
"Give him credit because he never thought about anything about himself. He didn't even spend time with his family. He's like: 'I'm going with you, Coach, we're going back.' It's just a special group."
Raskob Grateful To End On His Terms
At the 7:34 mark of the second period, Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Willie Raskob, a senior, was called for indirect-contact-to-the-head elbowing after a hit on Jarid Lukosevicius in front of the UMD bench.
The play was reviewed by the officials (a Big Ten crew) for several minutes before Raskob was assessed a minor. If the officials deemed that the contact to the head was intentional, Raskob's career would have ended with a game misconduct and a five-minute major.
“Yeah I was extremely scared," Raskob said. "Last game of my career at UMD, to have it end like that would’ve been absolutely miserable. I'm glad it didn’t. Thanks to the refs for letting me play it out with these guys. I'm incredibly thankful for that opportunity because I don't know if I could’ve recovered from ending my four years here like that.”
Redemption For Tampa
Denver lost to North Dakota in the 2017 semifinal at the Frozen Four in Tampa. Were they a team of destiny, looking for redemption?
Yes, and no. They were certainly looking for redemption, but calling them a team of destiny isn't fair. It minimizes the hard work this team had to go through.
"After that loss (last season), it seemed like everybody was focused from that day on to become better, become committed to excellence," Butcher said.
Montgomery added: "I never feel like there's a team of destiny. I always worry about when things are going too well, about making sure we stay grounded and we hold each other accountable. I think that loss to North Dakota helped us that way."
Miska Shakes Freshman Label
Hunter Miska is a freshman, but the Minnesota-Duluth goaltender played like a well-seasoned senior for the Bulldogs in the national championship game, particularly earlyin the game when Denver smothered UMD for the opening 10 minutes before thing settled down and chances were more even.
Grade-A scoring chances were 7-2 in the first period in favor of the Pioneers.
"He's grown, he's grown through the year," said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. "He obviously had an outstanding freshman year for us and he's a big reason why we're playing today. But he was ready. (Goaltender) is probably the one position I don't worry about too much because his consistency level and just his focus level."