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Denver Fires George Gwozdecky

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The iconic head coach is leaving the Pioneers after 19 seasons, and two national championships.

Brace Hemmelgarn (USA Today Sports)

The University of Denver announced Monday that George Gwozdecky has stepped down as head men's hockey coach after 19 seasons at the school. A national search will commence immediately for his replacement.

Gwozdecky compiled a record of 443-267-64 while behind the DU bench, and reached the pinnacle of college hockey twice, winning national championships in 2004, and 2005.

UPDATE: Mike Chambers from the Denver post is reporting that Gwozdecky was fired, and did not resign.

UPDATE No. 2: Denver says they released Gowdecky from his contract.

"We certainly wish George the best in his future endeavors and we are thankful for his 19 years at the helm of our hockey program," said Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes. "He certainly had his fair share of success, returning the program to the pinnacle of the collegiate hockey world during our great run in the middle of the previous decade. In addition, he has always run our program with class and professionalism, which has certainly made our fans proud to be Pioneer supporters.

"We must now turn our attention toward a new direction for our hockey program with another innovative coach taking the lead for our inaugural season in the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference."

The Denver Post reported that Gwozdecky had one season left on his current 12-year contract, but expected that contract to be extended.

This past season Denver finished fifth in the WCHA, and won 20 games for the 12th consecutive season, which is the longest streak in the nation. Denver also lost in the first round of the NCAA for the fifth time in the past six season, which has drawn the ire of some critics of the long-time coach.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to be the varsity hockey coach at the University of Denver for the past 19 years," Gwozdecky said. "I'm extremely proud of the work that we have done to continue to build on the great Pioneer hockey tradition. Our consistency of success on the ice and in the classroom over the years has been a focal point of our work and I am very proud of what we have achieved. I will forever cherish the relationships that we have built in the Denver community with our fans, our staff and most importantly our former and current players. I want to wish them all the best."

There will likely be multiple candidates for the position, but current associate head coach Steve Miller would be one of the most likely candidates. Miller has been at DU for the past 18 seasons, and is the teams' recruiting coordinator, and primary defensive coach.

RPI's Seth Appert is another name that you are going to hear rumored for the job. Appert was an assistant under Gwozdecky at Denver for nine seasons before taking the job at RPI.

When asked Monday afternoon if he would be a candidate for the opening by Ken Schott from the Daily Gazzette, Appert declined comment, but did note that he was stunned by the news.

"I'm shocked," Appert said. "I'm sad. Those are some of the people that I'm closest to, not just hockey, those are people that are family to me and my family. It's really tough right now."

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