After more than three decades at the helm, Ed Gosek has no plans of slowing down
By Steve Yablonski
You’d think that anyone who has worked 31 years in the same 24/7 job would be burned out. Anyone, that is, who isn’t Ed Gosek.
“This isn’t a job. My God, I am so blessed and fortunate to do something that I love. I don’t even look at it as work. I’m here until 7, 8 at night. I go home and do more recruiting and call kids, watch video. We already skated this morning at 7 over at the fort rink,” Gosek said in an early December 2021 interview. “It’s a full-time, seven days a week 24/7 project.”
Gosek has been at the college with the hockey program for 31 years, 19 as the head coach. He was six years with Don Unger, seven years with George Roll; 13 years as an assistant coach.
“And now, I am starting my 19th year as head coach,” he said. “I enjoy what I do. I am still passionate about it, still love the interaction with the college guys, trying to help them through life. It’s been an enjoyable career.”
He attributes the program’s longevity to “recruiting the best players that we can, that are also good students and good athletes.”
It’s a lot of work, he said.
“You practice all day. But when you are passionate about something, you do whatever it takes. You spend a lot of time on the road recruiting,” he said. “I’m very lucky. I’ve had good assistant coaches. We have great support from the administration, we’re very fortunate for that. It helps with recruiting.”
“It’s a fun place to play. Oswego is a hockey town; it’s a natural fit for the program. [The Marano Campus Center Arena] is right in the middle of campus,” he said.
Success starts with recruiting and developing players over the four years, he explained. And, the team’s record supports that philosophy.
They have been in the league finals “I don’t even know how many years,” Gosek said. “Been in the Final Four four or five times; won the national championship in 2007.”
Gosek’s team won the only team national championship in Laker history. His 2007 squad defeated Middlebury College in overtime to hoist the Division III title.
“It was nice winning the national championship. But I take more pride in the consistency of our program, being there year in and year out,” he said.
“You do things the right way. You don’t take shortcuts. We want to win, but it’s not win at all costs,” he added. “We’re not going to compromise the integrity of our program or myself just to be successful.”
Impressed with progress
The Lakers is a young team this season; 21 of the 28 members are new to the program.
The Lakers is a young team this season: 21 of the 28 members are new to the program.
“We are continuing to improve each game. We sit in second place in our league [as of early December]. I think we’re just scratching the surface. It’s been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of the year,” he said. “We get better with each and every game. I’m really impressed by the way the players are progressing. It’s all positive”
The Lakers have had players go on to minor pro leagues. They’ve had two players who have left already this season to go play in a Southern Pro League, one in Fayetteville, North Carolina and one in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“We’ve had one go on to the Florida Panthers in the NHL. But no one in the NHL recently,” Gosek said. “We have a lot of guys playing in Europe. We’ve got guys playing in the American League, the East Coast League…we have had quite a bit of success in that regard; helping players move on and continue their career.”
The hockey team and other Laker teams is big into community service.
“I take great pride in that,” Gosek said. “We give back to the community and the community has been a big supporter of us. We have more than 1,200 season ticket holders [in an arena that can hold 3,000] and usually have a full house at our home games.”
They had a benefit game in Rochester [Nazareth Flyers] to help fight cancer Dec 11. The Lakers skated to a 6-5 overtime win; it was career win number 350 for Gosek.
The annual teddy bear toss game was held earlier in Oswego.
“That was nice. It was a good turnout for the United Way and Toys for Tots,” Gosek said. “That was really nice.”
“The sport’s been very good to me. So has the college; I hate to see [president] Deborah Stanley go. She’s been very good to me and the program,” Gosek explained. “She is a big hockey supporter, and all athletics. Her and her husband, Mike, are at most home games. They’ve been very supportive. It’s been a very enjoyable part of my life. The friendships that I’ve made with the players; it’s a lot of players over 31 years, all the kids that you come in contact with and their families, all the people that you meet.”
Memories and goals
Some of the coach’s best memories include the Lakers’ big rivalry games over in Romney Fieldhouse vs. Plattsburg, many other games at Romney, the first game at the Campus Center rink, their 50th anniversary year “was great. That was special here at the rink.”
“Really, the memories here are of a lot of good people, a lot of good times with our players,” he added.
He is looking forward to “another shot at a championship and going to more Final Fours.”
“To say my life is boring would be so very off the mark. It’s one large extended family, yes it is. And when you lose a loved one like I did and you have, it’s very nice to have all those people call, check in on you and support you, care about you,” he said. “Extended family, we always refer to our team as family. How you treat each other, the friendships that you make, that’s a huge part of Laker hockey — it’s a family.”
So, even after more than three decades on the job, any chance of slowing down?
“Oh, hell no! I’m 60 years old and I love what I do,” the coach replied without hesitation. “When it’s not fun and you can’t put your heart and soul into it, then it’s time to get out. But right now, I really enjoy the group that we have. I think they have a high potential level. So, we’ll see. When it’s not fun to come here any more… I don’t know when that might be. I still enjoy it. I still have the energy to do it. I think the wisdom you gain by doing this more than 31 years… I’ve been very blessed.”
About the Lakers
Head Coach: Ed Gosek
Overall/Oswego Record: 348-111-31 (18th season)
Assistant Coaches: Jon Whitelaw, Mike Gray
Athletic Director: Sue Viscomi
Home Arena: Marano Campus Center Arena
Ticket info: 315-312-3073
Featured image: The goalie for the Oswego Lakers team, ready to make a save.