Tags Posts tagged with "Jake Guentzel"

Jake Guentzel

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photo courtesy Omaha Athletics

Ray Koch
Sports Editor

Welcome to hockey immortality, Jake Guentzel. The 22-year-old who went from Maverick hockey-star to NHL rookie-phenom is now a Stanley Cup Champion. What a year.

After scoring goals in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, Guentzel continued to pace the Penguins, as they went on to win the Stanley Cup in six games. He finished the postseason with 21 points, which ties the all-time rookie postseason record. He also led all players in scoring throughout the playoffs, including five game-winning goals.

The storylines of this year’s NHL playoffs were about legacies. A lot of the talk was about Sidney Crosby, and how these playoffs would define his career. It goes without saying that Crosby wouldn’t be raising his second straight Conn Smythe trophy, awarded to the playoff’s most outstanding player, if it wasn’t for a fellow line-mate who seemed to make plays when Crosby was locked down.

Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby were a nasty duo that nobody could seem to stop in the playoffs. As Guentzel helped Crosby cement his place in the ranks of the best hockey players of all-time, Guentzel established his own legacy. Like it or not, Penguin’s fans have found their “next Sidney Crosby,” in the form of a 22-year-old from who played collegiate hockey for the UNO Mavericks.

It’s only natural that Guentzel will have such high expectations to live up to. When you outscore every other player in the league throughout the playoffs, even with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on your team; and you’re a rookie, you’re going to turn lots of heads. For some reason, however, the spotlight never gets too big for Jake Guentzel.

After going from college hockey to the AHL, and finally the NHL, Guentzel finally has time to relax and celebrate how far he has come in such a short amount of time. His first taste of celebration came last Thursday, when the Penguins had their Stanley Cup Parade throughout Pittsburgh.

He may have already etched himself into the hearts of Pittsburgh fans forever with his playoff performance, but he added to the legend that is Jake Guentzel when a video surfaced of a fan asking Jake to sign a beer for him. The 22-year-old’s six-word response had the internet calling him “legendary.”

After being handed the beer, Guentzel said with a smile, “I sign it, you chug it.”

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Jake Guentzel
photo courtesy Omaha Athletics

Ray Koch
Sports Editor

Whether he’s wearing an Omaha Mavericks or a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey, Jake Guentzel is in control of the ice when the puck is on his stick.

The former University of Nebraska-Omaha standout, Guentzel finished off his senior year with the Mavericks and immediately went to his drafted team, the Pittsburgh Penguins minor league affiliate. Out of nowhere, with 40 games left in the regular season, Jake got moved up the NHL team to play with longtime idol, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jake made quite the impact for a rookie, scoring 16 goals to go along with 17 assists. That totaled 33 points in 40 career games—as a rookie. Yes; he put up better numbers in that span than the MVP candidate, Sid the Kid. Come playoff time, Guentzel found himself on the first line, making plays and carving defenses with the original “prodigy,” Sidney Crosby.

The two seem to be a good pair. Their play has helped the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup finals. Meanwhile, Jake has scored in 13 of 22 postseason games, and is the leading goal-scorer in the playoffs. Guentzel continues to get even more impressive, as he scored the game-winning goal in each of the first two Stanley Cup final games. He is a real triple threat every time he has the puck at his skates; he can be a sniper when his team needs a goal, or he can deke himself perfectly into position to set up another teammate for an open shot. It’s really easy to forget that this is the same kid that was playing college hockey for UNO only a year ago.

He has become the first player, and the only rookie, to score in each of the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final since 1997—twenty years. He even had time to check up on the current UNO hockey team, FaceTiming them periodically throughout the playoffs.

Not bad for a kid from Minnesota, who decided to fly south and play hockey at a Maverick program that had just made the switch to Division I. It seemed that decision benefited him well, as he’s making headlines across the country with the “who is this guy” persona. I guess you have to tip your cap to his former University for his progression as well. Not too bad, Omaha.