By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Reporter
BOSTON (AP) — David Carle was a freshman in Denver when he was diagnosed with a heart condition that ended his playing career. The Pioneers honored his scholarship anyway and kept him on the team as an assistant coach.
Now a head coach at just 32, Carle rewarded the school for their decision in Saturday night’s Frozen Four Finals by guiding Denver to a 5-1 win over Minnesota State and their ninth NCAA hockey championship. , a record.
“Denver hockey and college have done a lot for me,” Carle said, his suit still soaked from the sports drink his players poured him during the postgame on-ice celebration. “This responsibility does not fall to me lightly. I owe a lot of what I have in my life to this place. This program is very special; it means the world to me.
Ryan Barrow and Mike Benning scored within three minutes of each other to give Denver the lead, and the Pioneers woke up with five third-period goals to rebound from a 1-0 deficit. Massimo Rizzo added another goal with 6:26 remaining, and Brett Stapley and Cameron Wright had empty-scorers 30 seconds apart.
Magnus Chrona stopped 27 shots for the Pioneers (31-9-1). They won their first championship since 2017 and improved to 9-3 in title matches, including the last four in a row.
“You come to Denver to win national championships,” said Barrow, a fifth-year senior who set a school record by playing his 168th game.
“I came the year after they won,” he said. “You hear all their stories about winning the national championship and imagine yourself winning one yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I watched the pump video from 2017 of them winning the ‘natty’ It will be sweet enough to look at mine now.
Two nights after eliminating Michigan in the Frozen Four semifinals, Denver joined the Wolverines as the only schools with nine championships.
“It was definitely a goal, getting to nine,” said Carle, who is the fourth-youngest coach to win an NCAA title. “The ultimate goal is to get to 10, I’ll tell you. Winning Thursday against Michigan, the team at nine, was a huge step in that direction. And obviously, tonight is an even bigger step.
The game pitted the two best offensive teams in the country against each other, but from the moment Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask dropped the first ceremonial puck, the focus shifted to defense.
Minnesota State (38-6) took a 1-0 lead on Sam Morton’s first-period goal and prevailed — beating Denver 18-8 in the first 40 minutes. It was still the only goal until five minutes into the third, when Barrow slipped a rebound from Benning’s shot through the legs of Hobey Baker Award winner Dryden McKay.
Forty seconds later, Morton was kicked out for tripping; he had just returned to the ice and crossed the defensive zone when Benning hit him once into the net to give the Pioneers the lead. Benning also had two assists in the semi-finals, including the overtime winner, and was selected Frozen Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
Rizzo made it 3-1 and, when McKay was called out for an extra skater with about 3:30 to go, Stapley and Wright clinched him.
McKay made 15 saves for Minnesota State, which led the nation in wins and has won 18 in a row since Jan. 14.
“Once we gave up on the first one, I thought we started losing a bit of oil and couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said. . “It’s a place we haven’t been to in a while, and I don’t think we handled it very well. They smelled blood in the water and they were incredibly aggressive and they were rewarded for it.”
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