San Jose Sharks defenseman and former University of Denver junior All-American Matt Carle has been named as the winner of the 26th Hobey Baker Memorial Award; it was announced today by the Hobey Baker Award Executive Committee. The award is given annually to the college hockey player who best exhibits strength of character on and off the ice, contributes to the integrity of the team and displays outstanding skills in all phases.
Carle, who became DU’s first Hobey Baker Award winner, made his NHL debut with the Sharks on March 25 at Minnesota and scored his first NHL goal. He is the fifth Hobey Baker Award finalist in Pioneer history and second in four seasons. Goaltender Wade Dubielewicz was named to the final 10 in 2002. Other DU finalists for the prestigious award include Ed Beers (1982), Dallas Gaume (1986) and Dave Shields (1990).
“Matt’s ability and accomplishments as a player speak for themselves,” said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. “We are proud to have him as a part of our organization as he is a demonstrated winner both on and off the ice. His outstanding character, instilled by his family, matches his on ice skills and is a big part of the Hobey Baker voting process. The University of Denver program, led by the excellent work of head coach George Gwozdecky and his staff, deserve much credit as well for this much deserved recognition.”
“It’s kind of a shock right now,” said Carle. “I’m just happy to be up here representing my team and my great school at the University of Denver. We kind of had a rough loss there at the end of the season. Hopefully this will put a bright spot on the season for the guys back home and it’s a great honor for myself, too.”
Carle recently completed his junior season with the Pioneers where he earned a number of accolades including: WCHA Player of the Year, WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All WCHA. He became the first player in WCHA history to garner both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Awards in the same season. He led the nation with 1.08 assists per game and tied for 10th in scoring at 1.36 points per game. He also finished first among all NCAA Division I blueliners in points (53), assists (42) and second with 1.36 points per game. He led all WCHA defensemen in points, goals and assists in league play. Carle set DU's single-season assist record for defensemen at 42 and his 53 points rank second on DU's single-season points list for defensemen. In addition, Carle was named to the All-WCHA All-Academic Team for the second consecutive season. A real estate and construction management major, he carries a 3.30 grade-point average.
“It’s almost like a storybook with what’s happened in my college career,” added Carle. “I just really have to give a lot of credit to the University of Denver for giving me the opportunities. Not just letting me play there, but for the group of guys that were brought in there to play with me. Winning two national championships and then this year with the help of the guys helping me get up here to win the Hobey Baker, I can’t give enough credit to my teammates over the past three years. Those are some guys that will be best friends for the rest of my life and I can’t thank them enough.”
In addition to winning the Hobey Baker Award, Carle was NCAA Player of the Year for both InsideCollegeHockey.com and USCHO.com along with Defenseman of the Year. He was also first-team All-American for both sites.
Carle helped DU to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2004 and 2005 and became the first American born hockey player to capture a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championships and win an NCAA title in the same season. He netted a career-high 53 points on 11 goals and 42 assists in 39 games this season. He leaves DU as the fourth-most prolific scoring defenseman in school history after netting 122 points on 29 goals and 93 assists in 112 career games.
In 2004-05, Carle was a consensus All-American after scoring 44 points on 13 goals and 31 assists. In 2003-04, he was named to the All-WCHA Rookie Team after scoring 25 points on five goals and 25 assists in 30 games.
The six-foot, 195-pound native of Anchorage, Alaska was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the second round (47th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
“Ever since the selection show on Sunday it just seems like it’s been going nonstop," said Carle. "Every day has been a new experience and I’ve been learning more and more. I can’t give enough credit to the San Jose Sharks organization for making that transition so easy for me. I’ve been taking baby steps one at a time and now I’m trying to start developing and getting in more games. We’re in a tight playoff race and it’s been really exciting.”
Carle with his mother and girlfriend
Carle with the other finalists
Carle with the award