Guentzel Making Maverick Fans Proud

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.