A Denver hockey forward affectionately known as “Luco” suited up in a Pioneer uniform for his 100th career game Friday night. An impressive milestone worthy of an impressive performance. Jarid Lukosevicius didn’t disappoint.
Fifth-ranked DU cruised to a 5-0 victory against No. 15-ranked Nebraska-Omaha at the Ritchie Center. A welcomed result for a program searching for consistency. DU, fresh off a 4-1 win at Miami (Ohio) on Jan. 6, now has consecutive victories for first time since early December. The Pioneers also earned their fourth shutout this season as senior goaltender Tanner Jaillet totaled 34 saves.
“We’re building,” Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery said. “It’s nice to see guys starting to get it. You see the lights starting to come on. Now the challenge for us is, OK, we did it tonight. But human nature is to enjoy the moment too long.”
Lukosevicius — a junior of Lithuanian descent who grew up in Squamish, British Columbia (Canada) — provided the first spark. With under three minutes left in the first period and a power-play advantage, Lukosevicius redirected a shot from DU freshman defenseman Ian Mitchell and past Omaha goaltender Even Weninger.
Lukosevicius added another score in the third period, this time on an easy backdoor feed from sophomore forward Henrick Borgstrom from another power-play opportunity. In his 100th game, Lukosevicius notched his 33rd and 34th career goal.
“One of our goals tonight was to win net-front battles and win special teams,” Lukosevicius said, “and I think we did both tonight.”
DU expanded its lead quickly. Junior forward Dylan Gambrell controlled the puck past the blue line less than two minutes into the second period and dished it back to Mitchell, who crossed the ice left to right, stopped and fired the puck into the lower left corner of the net. It was the second goal of Mitchell’s young DU career.
In addition to Lukosevicius’ third-period goal, DU found the net twice more before the end of regulation with goals from junior forward Troy Terry and sophomore defenseman Erich Fear.
DU moved to 13-6-4 on the year with 11 regular season games remaining. The Pioneers return to the Ritchie Center for the second game of their double header against Omaha (12-10-1) at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.