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Pioneers coach David Carle carves connection with Tampa Bay Lightning

The coach shares a unique connection with the Tampa Bay organization.

DENVER — Despite a terrible storm in the greater Chicago area, David Carle made his journey to the United Center to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning play Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.

"It was the only time I've seen the Stanley Cup presented, unfortunately it was for the wrong team," Carle said.

For one of the toughest days in Bolts history, he was there with the team.

Seven years prior, it was the other way around.

"It was a time of my life where I was going through a lot of heartache and a real tough moment," he explained.

Carle was on a similar trajectory as his brother growing up. He planned to play hockey at Denver, was prepared to be a high selection in the upcoming 2008 draft, but his career ended before it even got started.

"My career was ended due to a heart condition that was initially found at the NHL combine and later confirmed by the Mayo Clinic and that led Tampa Bay drafting me in the 7th round as a token of appreciation for the work I had put in," Carle said.

Every pick matters, fans know this because Lightning's Ondrej Palat, who scored in Game 1, is a fellow 7th rounder.

The Pioneers kept his scholarship, a team led by head coach George Gwozdecky who would later be an assistant on that 2015 Stanley Cup Final team.

"Probably by the end of his sophomore year, beginning of his junior year there was a lot of interest in not only coaching, but there was a talent there," Gwozdecky said.

It was at this time Carle worked with a fellow DU assistant Derek Lalonde, who is on the Bolts' current staff now. Carle considers him a mentor.

"Derek, Newsy as we all call him, went to Green Bay to follow in Coop's footsteps, and that's where I was given my first full-time opportunity."

At 28 years old, Carle was given the head coaching gig at his alma mater winning a National Championship this year with the Pioneers.

Just like these Bolts – he just found a way.

"As I tell people, life is a team sport and I had a lot of people around me who were supportive. My family, the University of Denver, the Tampa Bay Lightning," Carle said.

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