Gambucci's career was spawned in his native Eveleth where his athletic prowess brought him national recognition. His career was interrupted after high school when he was called into military service during World War II. Upon his return, he attended St. Cloud Teachers College (now St. Cloud State University), where he captained the hockey team and was its leading scorer for two years. He chose to dedicate his career to coaching, first at Cathedral High School in Crookston, Minnesota, then at Central High School in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where his teams won ten consecutive state championships. His winning percentage of .867 was third highest in U.S. High School history.