April 14, 2024




 Goalie Matt Davis gets to hold hardware aloft. 



Coach David Carle discuss the Pioneers' second NCAA Frozen Four championship title in three seasons. 


The Pioneers have landed, we -- a hearty group of photo journalists and one scribe -- were told in mid-afternoon Sunday.


A few minutes later, the Sun Country chartered plane pulled into view, and then under and through a water cannons salute from two fire trucks.


The welcome-home and celebratory gesture was familiar for David Carle, who has been part of three Denver Pioneers Frozen Four championship teams, one as an assistant to Jim Montgomery in 2017, and now two more in 2022 and '24 as the head coach.


But next to him on the plane Sunday, his 2-year-old son, William, chortled. 

"He was pretty excited," Carle said a little later, in the Signature Flight Support headquarters. "He likes fire trucks. He thought that was pretty cool."

This was roughly 24 hours after the Pioneers knocked off Boston College 2-0 Saturday afternoon in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, securing the deep-rooted program's 10th NCAA championship and pulling out of a tie (at 9) with Michigan.   


  "It means everything," said the Pioneers' captain, senior forward McKade Webster. "First ones to 10. We have the belt now."  


 The DU hero was an unlikely one -- unheralded junior goalie Matt Davis, who allowed only three goals in the Pioneers' four NCAA tournament games.   


That's standing on your melon. 


The celebration began Saturday afternoon in St. Paul, lasted into the night and will continue Monday with a public 6:30 p.m. Championship Celebration at Magness Arena.


 "We had an earlier game this time," Carle said. "We got the opportunity to spend more time together and more time with family. In Boston (2017) and Chicago (2022), we kind of scattered right away. This year was amazing. It was great to see the families and everybody that makes this thing happen. After the game, we were able to have a room together and spend a lot of time together."


Ever since the Pioneers won that ninth title in 2022, the program's mantra was "10." No, not the movie, but the unprecedented 10th title that would set apart the Pioneers.


What now? 


 "Now we chase our own record," Carle said. "It's a huge honor for this team to with the 10 championships.The nine teams and the others that put their blood, sweat and tears into getting to this. . .I'm really proud of this team and all the ones that came before us." 


It's probably unfair to start looking ahead so soon, but Carle noted the program went through considerable transition since the 2022 championship. That's just the college game (or games), in 2024, and in hockey, it's tied to the NHL's draft-and-watch protocol. Others in the college game considered potentially elite won't reach draft age until after their freshman season.


"Eight of them were on our team in '22," Carle said of this championship roster. "And 19 of them were recruited with this in mind. They get to experience a lot of great things. Our sports community and our community as a whole will be able to celebrate with us."


Twelve of the Pioneers already have beeen drafted by NHL teams. That roll call: defensemen Sean Behrens (Avalanche),  Garrett Brown (Jets),  Shai Buium (Red Wings), and Lucas Olvestad (Canadiens); plus forwards Jack Devine (Panthers), Webster (Lightning), Aidan Thompson (Blackhawks), Miko Matikka (Coyotes), Massimo Rizzo (rights acquired by Flyers), Rieger Lorenz (Wild), Tristan Broz (Penguins) and Jared Wright (Kings). Only Webster was a senior this season, but it's almost certain a few of the already-drafted Pioneers underclassmen will sign -- even as soon as this week. Behrens was a junior this season, and the Avalanche claimed him in the second round of the 2021 draft, at No. 61 overall.


 "I think we'll be excellent again," Carle said. "We'll have meetings this week with all the guys. Certainly the guys have earned opportunities to sign pro contracts and we'll be their biggest fans. A lot of these guys have given so much to the program. We'll be their biggest cheerleaders. But we'll go through those discussions individually. We haven't had any of those, as we've just been focused on enjoying this." 

Two years ago, the Pioneers and Avalanche pulled off a hockey double-championship feat, and some DU players -- by then on summer break -- were acknowledged at the Avalanche parade in downtown Denver. The chances of that happening again might seem slim now, but the Avalanche was 1-5-1 in its final seven regular-season games in 2022 before storming through the Stanley Cup playoffs.


Never say never. 



 My previous commentaries on Pioneers who were celebrating Saturday:

November 29. 2023: Massimo Rizzo sparks the Pioneers 

February 16, 2023: Sean Behrens skates toward the Avalanche 

December 29, 2022: David Carle's story

December 13, 2022: Aidan Thompson a NoCo breakthrough 


Terry Frei's web site






Bob Bell's Mile Hi Property 


Big Bill's New York Pizza

8243 S. Holly Street

Centennial CO 80122

(303) 741-9245


Big Bill's Big Heart


JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation