Growing up in the ice-cold state of Alaska, new Denver Pioneers head coach David Carle was able to grow up playing the sport that he loved with his two brothers, Matt and Alex Carle.
“I think that we were more of a support beacon [instead of pushing each other],” the coach said. “We are all five years apart, so Matthew left home at the age of 15 and he kind of paved the way and really learned what life was outside of Alaska first and taught us [David and Alex] of everything he learned while playing away from home.”
His older brother Matt may sound familiar to hockey fans, as the former 13-year NHL veteran broke into the NHL in the 2005-06 season, following a career-high 53-point season with the Denver Pioneers. During his time in the NHL, Matt Carle played for the San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, and the Nashville Predators.
The youngest of the three, Alex Carle, is currently in his senior season playing for Merrimack College — a team that the Pioneers will take on in a lone road game on Friday, Dec. 28.
David Carle was set to follow in a similar path as his older brother, as he was set to be drafted in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. However, things took a turn for the worse, as he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, prior to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. That forced Carle into an early retirement from his playing career at the age of 18 to leap start his coaching career.
“The University of Denver honored my scholarship prior to my freshman year, giving me an opportunity and really saved my life in a huge way,” Carle said in regards to transitioning to coaching. “I was fortunate to be able to get that opportunity, and really gave me a family away from Alaska.”
Despite being pushed into retirement, Carle was still drafted in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning with the 7th round, 203rd overall pick.
With Carle still being able to attend the University of Denver, he quickly jumped on the opportunity to be a student assistant coach for the Pioneers hockey team to work alongside former Pioneers head coach George Gwozdecky, a role that he held throughout his four years at the University of Denver.
“George Gwozdecky had me doing skill development things and every year I progressed into doing more and more things with the team,” Carle said. “Through my junior and senior seasons I was really just scheduling my classes around coming to the rink and being able to be a part of practice, meetings, breaking down film for pre-scouting, and being a full-fledged member of the staff.”
Following his four years at the University of Denver, Carle spent a couple of seasons as the assistant coach for the Greenbay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) before making his return to the University of Denver midway through the 2013-14 season to fill the role as assistant coach.
Since arriving to the University of Denver in 2013-14 season, Carle has continued to play the role as assistant coach under former head coach Jim Montgomery, allowing him to learn from two prolific head coaches in Gwozdecky and Montgomery.
“I have learned a lot [from Gwozdecky and Montgomery], they are two huge mentors of mine and they are both incredible at what they do,” Carle explained. “And I was very fortunate to be around both of them and to work for both of them. They are both great people and know the game extremely well.”
Being able to learn from some of the greatest coaches in the history of the Pioneers hockey program, the time has come for Carle to craft his own legacy as the bench boss of the Pioneers. The 28-year old became the head coach of the prolific hockey program following Montgomery’s departure to coach the Dallas Stars, becoming the youngest head coach in NCAA Division 1 hockey.
“I don’t really think about it,” Carle said when asked about his thoughts about being the youngest active NCAA Division 1 hockey coach, “I was put into a position ten years ago to get into coaching, and that is kind of the way that I look at it — that I have been coaching for ten years.”
“I don’t look at it as anything more special because I am only 28-years old, and I think for anyone their experiences in their lives are what they are, and they have to use those experiences to learn and make the most of them.”
Carle comes out of the opening weekend with a 2-0 winning record following the Pioneers strong start with victories over Air Force and Alabama-Huntsville.