Anchorage’s Matt Carle was just a 19-year-old freshman for the University of Denver when he faced a daunting – and defining – challenge.
Carle’s Pioneers led Maine 1-0, with a minute-plus left to play in the 2004 NCAA Division I championship game. With a 6-on-3 manpower advantage to defend Denver’s coach chose two seniors and Carle, his youngest defenseman, who he called the best rookie blueliner he ever coached.
The Pioneers and Carle escaped, and they savored the celebration, as they did again the following season. A smooth skater with a high hockey IQ, Carle brought calm to chaos, and his skills, smarts and poise stamped him as rink royalty.
That proved true throughout a career filled with accomplishments and accolades – winner of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s best player, two-time NCAA champ, two-time First- Team All-America, National Hockey League All-Rookie selection.
Carle became the first Alaska defenseman to play in the NHL and remains the only Alaska blueliner to reach that peak.
Carle carved out a 12-season career in the world’s best league, skating for the San Jose Sharks, who drafted him in the second round in 2003, as well as the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators. He played a combined 857 NHL games before retiring in 2016, generating a combined 51 goals and 276 assists for 327 points.
Carle twice made the Stanley Cup Final, And he established himself as the template for Alaska defensemen.
— Doyle Woody