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University of Denver Pioneers hockey coach ...
Andy Cross, The Denver Post
University of Denver Pioneers hockey coach David Carle during a press conference at TD Garden April 07, 2022. The Pioneers play the Minnesota State Mavericks in the NCAA Frozen Four Championship game Saturday night.
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BOSTON — Coach David Carle doesn’t look old enough to buy a pint of Sam Adams in a Beantown pub, much less hoist the University of Denver’s storied hockey legacy on his shoulders. And I mean that as a compliment, although Carle doesn’t want to be known as a boy genius.

“I don’t think age has anything to do with success in life,” Carle told me Friday, on the eve of a showdown in the TD Garden against Minnesota State for the national championship.

But if the NFL throws roses at the feet of Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay for winning the Super Bowl shortly after his 36th birthday, shouldn’t we stand up and cheer Carle for being one victory away from raising a banner for the Pioneers at age 32?

“Age is just a number,” Carle said.

Kid Carle has kicked the training wheels off and is pedaling as fast as he can to catch DU coaching legends Murray Armstrong, George Gwozdecky and Jim Montgomery and win it all for the ninth time in school history.

“We’re here to win the national championship. It’s such a special thing, and everyone of us wants to make a mark on this program. We have such high standards in Denver; to do that you have to win a national championship,” Pioneers forward Bobby Brink said.

Back in 2018, when DU made him the youngest head coach at a top-shelf program at the tender age of 28, there were raised eyebrows throughout the country, not to mention whispers behind Carle’s back on the recruiting trail. Rivals warned prospects that signing for a coach learning on the job with the Pioneers was a bad way to build a career.

“I know competitors of (DU) tried to use it against us. In recruiting battles, people would say things,” Carle said. “Those competitors don’t like that we do well now, because it puts it all to bed. They can’t use it against us anymore. (Coaches) tried to raise concern, probably more about my inexperience than the age thing, because they had bigger, longer resumes. But we all have to build resumes from somewhere.”

The 85 victories Carle has produced in four years on the DU bench now count for way more than the 11/9/1989 on his birth certificate. “I’m just waiting for the hair to start going white,” said Carle, his mane as red as a fire truck. “Hopefully that’s a few years down the line.”

After the Pioneers struggled to a 10-13-1 record last season, the clutch scoring of Carter Savoie, the magical stickwork of Brink and a supremely talented (not to mention fearless) freshman class has turned DU into the slickest show on NCAA ice, leading the nation with an average of nearly 4.3 goals per game.

The Pioneers, said Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings, “have a certain swagger about them.”

When asked, after the Pioneers’ thrilling 3-2 overtime victory against Michigan in the semifinals, if his relative youth is an advantage in relating to DU players, the press conference room convulsed with laughter before Carle could curtly answer: “No.”

The reporter graciously apologized to Carle, insisting the question wasn’t meant to be taken as a joke.

“But everyone laughed,” Carle replied. “The answer is no.”

Andy Cross, The Denver Post
University of Denver Pioneers hockey coach David Carle, left, talks to his team during practice at TD Garden in Boston April 7, 2022. The Pioneers play the Minnesota State Mavericks in the NCAA Frozen Four Championship game Saturday night.

The way Carle figures it, age might be no barrier to success, but respect and trust is what any coach, young or old, must establish in order to build a winning culture.

Way back in 1924, a 27-year-old manager named Bucky Harris led the Washington Senators to the World Series title. Although Mike Krzyzewski landed the job as the basketball coach at Duke at age 33 in 1980, he didn’t cut down the nets with the Blue Devils at the Final Four until 11 years later.

“There are still some scenarios in hockey that maybe I haven’t really considered or can catch me by surprise. So I’m still learning. I’ve by no means got it all figured out,” Carle said. “But do I feel more comfortable and confident than I did four years ago? Yes, of course.”

If he takes home a trophy from this Frozen Four with the Pioneers, some folks might still mistake him for a kid on the DU bench. But everybody will call Carle a champ.