Yesterday’s viral internet hit goes back to work.
Minnesota associate head coach Mike Guentzel was in Minneapolis Tuesday, less than 24 hours after watching youngest son Jake make his NHL debut in Pittsburgh. Jake did not disappoint, scoring on his first shift and twice against the New York Rangers.
On Tuesday Guentzel returned to practice for the Gophers, who face Northeastern and Boston College on the road this weekend. He found out Jake, who went to Nebraska Omaha from 2013-2016, would play late Sunday, flew out to Pittsburgh Monday, and then got back around 11:30 AM on Tuesday. (Of course Guentzel also mixed in an appearance on a national Canadian radio program along with talking with the Penguins website and local reporters.)
“It was great to see. I didn’t want to miss it for the world,” he said Tuesday.
In the interim Mike got to take off his coach hat and put on his proud Dad one. While the coach in him could see the little things (Pittsburgh lost 5-2 and Jake had a chance for a hat trick which would changed momentum), proud dad got to celebrate.
Jake needed all of 1:02 of ice time and one shot to record his first NHL goal.
“I couldn’t believe it. He shot the puck - he got some advice from his brothers yesterday because he’s usually a pass first, shoot second kind of guy and they told him you have to shoot. Get pucks on the net and he did,” Guentzel said. “It went in and just his facial expression from up where we were sitting was phenomenal. To be able to see the puck go in was something I didn’t expect to happen.”
The hockey world can be a small one. For Guentzel, whose focus is on the Gopher defense, one of his former Minnesota defensemen in Brady Skjei was on the ice with the Rangers. Another Gopher, Phil Kessel, played with Jake Monday and assisted on his first goal.
When Kessel played at Minnesota, Jake was an 11 year-old. kid hanging around Mariucci Arena. Now at 22, the son of Minnesota’s associate head coach is in the NHL. If Jake stays up with the Penguins, Pittsburgh comes to town Friday to play the Wild when Coach Guentzel will be in Boston working with his own team.
Guentzel already has been able to bask in the crowd applauding for his child and celebrate himself along with his family.
“People pay good money to go to an NHL game and I think (Jake) did a good job of putting his best foot forward when he did,” Jake’s dad said.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate