After posting just five wins in the past two seasons, Valor Christian’s hockey program seemed destined for the high school scrap heap—an also-ran, ironically, at a school known for its athletic prowess. That changes now.
The Eagles begin the season this month with rare excitement: Over the summer, Valor hired George Gwozdecky, the former University of Denver head coach famous for leading the Pioneers to two collegiate national titles. And not only that: For the past two seasons, “Gwoz”—as he’s known in the hockey world—spent his time as an assistant coach for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that reached the Stanley Cup Final last season.
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“I can tell you, this is not a one-and-done thing,” Gwozdecky told Valor hockey parents in August. “I am here to build a program.” That’s heady stuff for a private high school that has powerhouse football—five consecutive state championships—and a litany of other perennial title-contending sports programs. But Gwoz isn’t the first pro to take his coaching acumen to the preps. Here’s how he and other Colorado coaches have fared.