What more could a coach do when he’s succeeded on the professional and collegiate levels of hockey? Try to achieve the same kind of greatness on the prep level.
That is exactly what former University of Denver Hockey coach, George Gwozdecky is trying prove. After having success as a coach in the NHL (as an assistant, he led the 2015 Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup Final, falling to the Chicago Blackhawks), Gwozdecky is also the first person to win a hockey NCAA championships as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
Gwozdecky won an NCAA title as a player at Wisconsin (1977), and an assistant coach at Michigan State (1986). He led the Pioneers to back-to-back championships in 2003-04 and ’04-05.
Now, Gwozdecky has been named the new head coach for the Valor Christian High School hockey team and the school could not be more excited about their new hire. Valor’s athletic director, Jamie Heiner, made the announcement Friday.
“He is truly about something bigger than the sport and we are absolutely thrilled to have him join our team,” Heiner said of Gwozdecky in a press release statement. “He’s lived here for 20 something years — so he’s watched it rise up out of the ground and have success.”
“He compared it to some of the things he did at DU on how quickly he turned that program and around. I don’t know if he just saw some similarities, and wanted to leave a mark and a legacy.”
Gwozdecky has lived in the Highlands Ranch community since the beginning of his 19 years as head coach for the Pioneers. When he was abruptly fired in 2013, he was the only current NCAA hockey coach to lead a team to 20 wins in 12 consecutive seasons. During his time at the University of Denver, Gwozdecky accumulated a record of 443-267-64.
“My story of coming to Valor is truly amazing,” Gwozdecky said in the release. “I was serving as a reference to a friend and an associate on a coaching position at Valor, and the more I learned of the school, the more intrigued I became personally.
“I am truly excited to apply what I have learned in this great sport, and the lessons of a lifetime of coaching to the Valor student athletes I will have the privilege of working with. I’m anxious to get started.” Gwozdecky, who takes over for Sam Shooster, will officially meet his new team on Aug. 17.
Marcus Flowers, a Mile High Sports intern and Claflin University student, contributed to this report