For David Carle, December means managing lofty goals for Denver and Team USA
DENVER, Colorado – Monday was a big day for both of David Carle’s teams.
Before practice on Monday, the University of Denver posed for their annual team picture. Fresh off a 3-2 overtime win against North Dakota on Saturday, there’s a good feeling for the Pioneers who currently sit No. 7 in the pairwise rankings and were No. 5 in EP Rinkside’s November power rankings.
A couple hours before that team picture was taken in Denver, USA Hockey announced the preliminary roster for the 2024 World Junior Championship in Stockholm. The 29 players will head to a three-day training camp in Plymouth, Michigan on Dec. 14 where Carle and GM John Vanbiesbrouck will sift through and make final selections.
It’s an interesting juggling act for Carle this time of year, where he’s responsible for managing both NCAA championship expectations at Denver and gold-medal aspirations for Team USA.
“It’s unfair to either if you let them blend in with each other,” Carle told EP Rinkside. “So it’s just trying to be efficient with time and making sure that when thinking or talking or working on either, that in that moment that (team is) receiving the full attention.”
When it comes to Team USA, Carle is still more of a consultant at this point than a decision maker. He watched all of the players in person at the World Junior Summer Showcase; after that, any in-person viewing – besides players that have played for or against Denver – would actually be an NCAA violation, similar to the one that Michigan football was punished for earlier this season.
So Carle’s scouting of players has been through video and word-of-mouth, he’s talked to other college hockey coaches and staff members for the National Development Program. Vanbiesbrouck has done a bulk of the in-person scouting, and they’ve had semi-regular calls to shape and build the roster.
“He really is the brain trust, all the reports feed into him,” Carle said. “We have a few calls here in the fall as the whole group. I probably talk to John on a weekly basis, just to talk about how guys are looking … from the evaluation camp, getting down to this number was challenging. Getting down to the team will be even more challenging.”
The preliminary roster was close to finalized on American Thanksgiving, and players started to learn of their invites last week. Zeev Buium, who plays for Carle at Denver, was the first player to learn he’d been invited to camp before, Carle started calling players directly.
Of the 29 players, eight are returners from the 2023 World Junior Championships. Twenty-four of the players have been drafted, four are eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft, like Buium, while James Hagens is eligible for the 2025 Draft.
There is also a distinct college hockey feel, with 26 of the 29 players either in college or committed to play in the NCAA next season.
Carle said his plan for the three-day camp in Plymouth will be internal competition and as many game-like scenarios as possible.
“It’ll be game-like and challenging practice, we’ll push them and we’ll try to implement systems,” Carle said. “There’ll be a lot of special teams involved. You know, we don’t have the numbers to do like a full scrimmage (at camp), but we’ll certainly have drills and components that will be 5-on-5 and we’ll let those things go for 25 to 30 seconds … it has to be a challenging camp that is going to prepare us for the tournament, but also is going to assist us in choosing the right people for the team.”
But that’s a task, Carle said, he really can’t start planning and laying out until next week. Denver plays at Western Michigan this week, it’s a big series for both the NCHC and the pairwise.
So for Carle it’s back to juggling, or better yet, compartmentalizing two jobs with lofty expectations.