Miami University’s hockey program celebrated its past the last two days during alumni weekend, and George Gwozdecky had the time and desire to be there.
Included was recognition of the 1992-93 MU team that won the Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time. Gwozdecky was the head coach.
“I just had to be back for this,” he said. “I’m really glad that I have the opening in my schedule because of all the things throughout my entire career, this team is probably my No. 1 memory. It holds a special place in my heart.”
Still the Redskins at that point, the squad went 27-9-5 and lost to Wisconsin 3-1 in the NCAA tourney. Miami needed at least one point on the last day of the regular season to grab the title and tied Lake Superior State 6-6, rallying from a two-goal deficit.
Among the players on that team was current MU head coach Enrico Blasi.
“Great memories and great young guys,” said Gwozdecky, reeling off names like Blasi, Chris Bergeron, Bobby Marshall, Brian Savage, Richard Shulmistra, Joe Cook and Trent Eigner. “Guys from that team were the building blocks of the program. I know there were tremendous guys that came before them, but in my mind, that was the foundation for the Brotherhood. That’s when that whole term started.
“I don’t think anybody will really understand what this group had to deal with. Our program was one of the have-nots. We were underfunded scholarship-wise. We were underfunded budget-wise. We only had one full-time assistant coach. With our travel budget, we could only afford one night of lodging per trip, so we would have to leave on Friday mornings.
“These guys didn’t allow those things to become an excuse for them. I still get a little emotional and choked up about that season because it was so rewarding and so important for me in my career. I can remember that season like it was yesterday.”
Gwozdecky was Miami’s head coach for five seasons, going 83-94-19. In 1994, he began a 19-year run at Denver that included 443 wins and two national championships, but he was dismissed with one season left on his contract just over three months ago.
Gwozdecky smiled Friday when asked about his coaching future.
“I hear the same questions from my family every morning at the breakfast table,” he said. “My coaching career is not done. It’s probably on hold for this year. I do have plans to be in the broadcast booth for different networks to cover college hockey, and I’ve been teasing Rico. As soon as his power play starts going haywire, I’ll be in the booth sharing my expertise on how he’s screwing up.”
Would he consider returning to the game as an assistant coach?
“I’m leaving all doors open,” Gwozdecky said. “I think my wife has earned the right to be picky. Together, we’re going to evaluate opportunities and see where that goes. I’ve already offered my services to Rico as senior executive consultant. I think that’s general enough where no one can figure out what you’re doing, so that’s the best job to have.”