Magazine Feature / People

Gwozdecky ‘blessed’ with 300 DU wins, 450 in career

photo portrait

George Gwozdecky

When the decibels of the final buzzer faded into the cool air of University of Notre Dame’s arena on Oct. 19, it marked a magnificent milestone for DU hockey coach George Gwozdecky.

The 3–1 win over the Fighting Irish gave Gwozdecky his 300th win at the University of Denver and his 450th career win.

“I’ve been blessed,” Gwozdecky says.

Blessed, he says, with “outstanding” assistant coaches and support staff; an “understanding and loving” wife and daughter who help him face challenges; former coaches who were mentors; and blessed, he says, with a school that gave the hockey program the tools to recruit some of the very best student-athletes. 

And he reserves his final praise for those students he’s coached at DU during those last 13 years — students he calls “talented and dedicated.” 

“Our student-athletes are the reason why the Pioneer hockey program continues to be nationally competitive and respected by anyone who comes into contact with them,” Gwozdecky says. “I have been very fortunate to have worked with great players that have made our program very successful.”  

But DU hockey followers might say the school has been blessed with an extraordinary coach.

Gwozdecky is the only coach in NCAA history with four national titles under his belt — one as a player, one as an assistant coach and two as a head coach. He’s also a two-time NCAA Division I coach of the year. 

Plus, he’s amassed a 300–191–40 record with the Pioneers. And teams with him at the helm have reached the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last 15 years. The Pioneers also captured nine Denver Cup titles under Gwozdecky. 

Despite the impressive numbers, Gwozdecky, now in his 22nd year of coaching college hockey, says one of his biggest rewards as coach has been seeing former players grow their careers after they leave DU. 

“To see them develop in their chosen careers is one of the things I enjoy the most,” he says. “I’ve learned you’re only as good as the people you work with. I’ve always believed in letting talented people do what they do best and then make sure to stay out of their way.” 

He adds that his longevity at DU “is a testament to the strong and patient leadership and the vision that has guided this institution ever since our arrival in 1994.” 

Steve Miller, one of DU’s three assistant hockey coaches, has said Gwozdecky is “someone you always want to emulate” and that he’s “very professional” and leads with “a quiet dignity and a fundamental respect for the game, its players and for the collegiate institution.”

Gwozdecky says simply he would like to be remembered as “a person who helped young people understand the importance of their education, helped them reach their hockey potential all while helping them develop a more mature attitude towards life.”

Mission accomplished.

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