One of ten finalists for the prestigious Spencer T. Penrose Award for the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Coach of the Year, University of Denver head coach David Carle is on track to accomplish the same successes as the former gentlemen who once stood behind the Pioneers bench.

There is a high expectation that comes with being the DU hockey head coach, because the Denver Pioneers are one of the most storied hockey programs in the country. 

"We're the one that get to carry the flag and be the flag bearers today, but there's a lot of people that came before us that made it what it is," said Carle.

"You feel like the footprints are still there of what we were able to accomplish," said former DU head coach and present Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery of the 2017 season.

DU hockey is an institution that has reached the Frozen Four for the 16th time in program history, but the first with Carle behind the bench. 

"I follow in a great line of coaches that have come before me and built this program to what it is," he said.

Many of DU's hockey head coaches have been nominated and won the award for the Penrose Award including Murray Armstrong, Ralph Backstrom, George Gwozdecky and Jim Montgomery. 

"It's a real honor to be even talked about with any of those people," said Carle. 

Although he may not have won the award -- Frozen Four opponent University of Massachussetts Head Coach Greg Carvel was announced the winner on April 10 -- Carle's success thus far has provided promise to the historic program. 

NCAA Championship Hockey
Denver coach Jim Montgomery talks to his team during the third period of the NCAA Frozen Four championship college hockey game, against Minnesota-Duluth, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Chicago. Denver won 3-2. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP

Part of the 29-year-old coaches success came from serving under mentor Jim Montgomery as an assistant coach for four and half seasons.

"He's followed the progress of the team, and it's funny. Every time he's texting it's still 'our' and 'we' and I think it speaks volumes to who he is as a person that he's still fully invested," said Carle about Montgomery. 

The former head coach is so invested that when he finds time to watch a DU hockey game it's as if he's still behind the Pioneers' bench. 

"Even during the Ohio State game, he was able to watch the game so he's texting us in between periods and during the game things that he's seen," said Carle.

"I was telling them how to be better offensively, how to make lost-draws wins, and just telling them they gotta have a killer instinct if they want to win the game," said Montgomery with a laugh.

History has been able to the Pioneers program into a rich establishment.

"[I'm] very proud of what they've been able to achieve this year with such a young team, and rooting for title number nine, national title number nine, this weekend," said Montgomery. 

Denver is embracing their past to fuel them to more victories and growth in the very near future.