CBC Profiles Carle Brothers

(above) DU Alum Matt Carle and the Flyers will play Chicago on Sunday night

From: CBC.com

by Tim Wharnsby

There was a mob of reporters around defenceman Chris Pronger in the Philadelphia Flyers' dressing room moments after his team had tied up the Stanley Cup final at 2-2 on Friday.

They listened to him orate on how the Flyers have been able to claw back into the series and watched him bask in the spotlight. Everybody wanted to hear from the Conn Smythe Trophy candidate with Game 5 set for Chicago on Sunday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m.).

About 10 minutes later, Pronger's defence partner, Matt Carle, climbed up onto the same riser to conduct a session with reporters. But the crowd that remained had dwindled to only a handful, even though Carle had just scored his first career playoff goal in the 5-3 win to take a stride closer to his Stanley Cup dream.

"He's obviously playing with a lot of confidence right now," Pronger said. "He's making a lot of smart decisions on the ice. He's been playing very well one-on-one against their top players.

"He makes that good first pass and his vision sets him apart."

Championships also have set the 25-year-old Carle apart from the average NHLer. When the native of Anchorage, Alaska was 15 he remembers watching another fellow Alaskan, Scott Gomez, win his first to two Stanley Cup titles with the New Jersey Devils.

The triumphant scene inspired Carle. He went on to win world under-17, under-18 and junior championships with the United States. He then celebrated back-to-back U.S. college titles at the University of Denver and won the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate hockey player.

No bed of roses

But life hasn't been rosy all the time for Carle. That's why he has been so determined to win a Stanley Cup with the Flyers.

Two years ago, when Carle was still with the San Jose Sharks he was informed by his younger brother David that his hockey career was over, just a few months before the young Carle was about to suit up as a freshman defenceman at the University of Denver.

David Carle was diagnosed with hypertrophy cardiomyophathy, a heart condition that often kills young athletes if it goes undiagnosed.

It was too risky for David to continue playing, even though the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted him a few weeks later in the seventh round. The University of Denver honoured the younger Carle's scholarship. He just completed his second year as a student/assistant coach.

David often has remarked how much his brother helped him through the tough times. With two more wins, there could be one heck of celebration for the Carle brothers.

The older Carle was drafted in the second round (47th overall) by the San Jose Sharks in 2003. He was impressive in his first full season there, making the NHL all-rookie team.

But then he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the deal that the Sharks landed Dan Boyle. Carle's stay in Tampa Bay did not last long. He then was moved to the Flyers in exchange for Steve Downie and Steve Eminger.

Whether it simply has been more experience or playing alongside Pronger, Carle has been magnificent for the Flyers. "A little bit of both," said Carle, when queried as to what has contributed to his fine play in the playoffs.

The Pronger-Carle pairing have done an outstanding job shutting down the Blackhawks top line Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien in the final. So much so, that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lines quite a bit on Friday in the hopes some sort of offensive spark would occur for his team.

"I have learned to have a little bit more composure out there and to be a bit more aggressive defensively," said Carle, when asked what playing alongside Pronger has done for him. "He's a guy you can learn a lot from just watching him on and off the ice."

"We hit it off pretty good. There might have been a little bit of an adjustment period in training camp to get familiar with. But it seemed to be a good fit right away."

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