Denver Captures Its Ninth N.C.A.A. Hockey Championship

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By beating Michigan in overtime in their semifinal on Thursday, Denver checked off its first goal of this Frozen Four: to ensure the Wolverines would not become the first team to win 10 titles.

The Wolverines were a formidable opponent, featuring 13 N.H.L. draft picks, including seven first-rounders and four of the top five picks from last July’s draft. The Pioneers trailed by 1-0 in that game, too, but fought back to win on Carter Savoie’s overtime goal. Carle’s quest to get Denver that ninth title remained alive.

“Winning Thursday against Michigan, the team at nine, was a huge step in that direction,” Carle said.

Carle, 32, is only seven years older than Barrow. A former Denver recruit, Carle never hid from his players the significance of winning a ninth championship.

In 2008, after playing at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn., Carle was set to follow his older brother — the N.H.L. player Matt Carle — and be a star player at Denver. It never worked out. At an N.H.L. scouting combine before David Carle’s freshman year of college, doctors discovered he had an enlarged heart muscle. He was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and he retired from playing.

But the university honored his scholarship, and George Gwozdecky, the coach at the time, made him an assistant coach while a student. After graduating in 2012, David Carle went to Green Bay to be an assistant coach in the United States Hockey League, a top junior ice hockey league, then returned to Denver two years later as an assistant to the new Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery. When Montgomery departed to coach the Dallas Stars in the N.H.L. in 2018, Denver took a chance on a confident and unusually experienced 28-year-old.

“That responsibility does not fall on me lightly,” David Carle said to explain why it meant so much to tie for most championships. “I owe a lot of what I have in my life to the university.”

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