Carle wins Hobey

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MILWAUKEE (AP) – Matt Carle said his new NHL teammates in San Jose wished him luck when he left for Milwaukee to find out if he was the nation’s top college player.

The former Denver defenseman won the Hobey Baker award Friday night, and predicts a different reaction when he returns to the Sharks to play Dallas on Sunday.

“I’m sure I’ll get some grief from it, that’s to be expected,” Carle said. “I guess I’d rather be taking the grief than not.”

Carle, from Anchorage, Alaska, was a member of the 2004 and 2005 championship teams at Denver before joining the Sharks after the Pioneers’ season ended.

He scored a goal in his first game as a professional. In six NHL games, Carle has two goals and an assist.

“Every day has been a new experience, learning more and more,” Carle said. “Now, I’m trying to start developing and get in some more games.”

The 21-year-old Carle also was selected the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year – a first in league history.

“He just dominated in his position, and you could see that as he graduated to the National Hockey League,” said finalist Brian Elliott of Wisconsin.

Carle, a junior who plans to enroll in summer school to complete his college education, led the nation in assists with 42 and defensemen with 53 points. He joins other NHL players from Anchorage, including Scott Gomez and Jason Ryznar of the New Jersey Devils and Ty Conklin of the Edmonton Oilers.

“I’ve only got six games under my belt and Gomez has got those two Cups,” Carle said. “Those guys are still just role models to me.”

The other two finalists – Chris Collins of Boston College and Elliott – will meet on the ice on Saturday night for the NCAA championship.

Collins was the Hockey East Player of the Year with 34 goals and 29 assists.

He scored three goals in Boston College’s 6-5 win on Thursday against North Dakota in the Frozen Four semifinal.

Elliott led the nation in nearly every goaltending category, including goals- against average (1.56), save percentage (.938), shutouts (8) and wins (26).

Just putting everything in perspective, I think both of us are just glad we’re playing in the national championship game,” Elliott said. “I think we’d trade that trophy for a ring any day.”

The three finalists were picked from a list of 10 determined by the votes of 59 Division I head coaches and a preliminary online poll. The recipient is chosen by a 25-member selection committee of coaches, referees, NHL scouts, media members and fans.

AP-ES-04-07-06 2041EDT

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