In order to pass their knowledge of a sport on to their players, many winning coaches enjoy success as a player before making their way behind the bench. Such is the case with George Gwozdecky Jr., who got his foundation in hockey playing in the minor and junior leagues of Port Arthur and Thunder Bay.
Gaining success in junior hockey with the Marrs and Vulcans during the early 1970s, he made his way to the forward line of the University of Wisconsin Badgers, serving as a member of their 1977 NCAA championship squad. A 1978 Wisconsin graduate and four-year letter winner, he earned his Bachelor's degree in Physical Education and his Master's in Education from UW-River Falls the following year. Signed on as the Head Coach of the River Falls Falcons in 1981, he led the team to the 1983 NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) title, earning NAIA Coach of the Year honours, the first of many such honours to come his way.
Compiling a three-year record of 67-30-2 (.687) at River Falls, he was recruited by Michigan State University to join their assistant coaching staff. At MSU, he added yet another national title to his growing resume, helping to lead the Spartans to the 1985-86 NCAA title. In 1989, the University of Miami (Ohio) came calling when they were looking for someone to serve as the Head Coach of their Division I RedHawks. His five-season stay was impressive, as he lead the team to their first ever CCHA title in 1993, and was twice named the CCHA (Central Collegiate Hockey Association) Coach of the Year.
In 1994, he made his way to the University of Denver and, since his arrival there, he has been credited with bringing the excitement back to one of college hockey's proudest programs. Under his leadership, the Pioneers captured the 2004 and 2005 NCAA national championship titles, four WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) regular-season titles, and 4 playoff titles. He also guided his team to thirteen 20-win seasons and seven seasons with 25 or more wins and won 4 WCHA Coach of the Year Awards.
As he enters his 25th coaching season, he brings with him a collegiate coaching record of 523-351-71 (.591), 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, and the 1993 and 2005 Spencer Penrose Award as the National Coach of the Year, making his hometown, and no doubt his fellow Hall of Fame father Dr. George Gwozdecky, very proud.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25th, 2010