Matt Carle is a man of many talents. He is a National Team Development Program alumnus, former USHL Defenseman of the Year, Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner and an NHL defenseman.
He is also a 23-year-old Alaska native who likes to head north every summer to return to his roots.
“I’m very proud of where I came from. Everyone who is from there just loves to go back. It’s a really laid- back atmosphere and everyone’s really down to earth,” says Anchorage’s latest son to break into the NHL.
Carle has traveled a long road from his beginnings in the great north. He spent two years developing his game at the NTDP, a place where he “developed a lot of friendships and relationships that I still have today.”
Because of his late birthday, Carle was left with an entire academic year to complete when his friends aged out of the NTDP. So he headed to Omaha, Neb. to play for the River City Lancers of the USHL during his senior year of high school.
At the tender age of 18, Carle trekked to the Mile High City of Denver to raise his game to new heights while playing for the University of Denver Pioneers. His three-year stint culminated in his junior year when he was named both the WCHA Player of the Year and recipient of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.
The San Jose Sharks knew the mobile Carle was a force to be reckoned with when they drafted him in 2003. But after the success of his breakout season in Denver, the Sharks were through waiting for their young prodigy to wrap up his college career. They signed him to the entry-level maximum of $4.1 million in exchange for him giving up his senior year of college.
"I’m very proud of where I came from. Everyone who is from there just loves to go back."
The course of study that Carle left behind for the NHL was one that will continue to serve him as he makes his way through the ranks of the big times. As a real estate major at DU, Carle learned how to watch markets and pounce on investment opportunities like loose pucks.
“It’s something I still take interest in, even when I’m playing,” he says.
While Carle is the first to admit he is living a childhood dream, the physical side of playing in the NHL has been no cakewalk. The jump from 40 games per year to 82 is a challenge for even the most well conditioned athlete.
“You understand when you come in how many games you are going to have to step up to from playing college hockey, but you can’t really prepare for that unless you’ve been through it,” he admits.
As he wraps up his second full season in San Jose, Carle keeps his focus on helping the Sharks win its first Stanley Cup. If he continues on his current path, there’s little doubt that his game will continue to shine brighter than the Northern Lights in the skies of his home state.
photo by Getty Images