Hill-Murray junior Jake Guentzel scored three goals in Team Southeast's 6-3 victory over Team Northwest. Photo by Helen Nelson
Father and son were hanging out in the penalty box.
Jake Guentzel had been whistled for an infraction. Mike Guentzel was a parent volunteer running the gate.
Quality time for the Guentzels, on that occasion, came in 2-minute increments.
“It’s nice having him back,” Jake Guentzel said about his father, who worked as an assistant men’s hockey coach at Nebraska-Omaha last season. “It was tough on me and my mom with him gone. Now it’s nice to get him back and have him come see my games.”
Mike Guentzel returned to the University of Minnesota as associate head coach on July 13. A former Gophers defenseman, Guentzel had previously served at Minnesota as a longtime assistant coach in the program before departing three seasons ago.
With Guentzel back in Minnesota coaching the Gophers, the family put the finishing touches on a new Woodbury home and moved in this fall.
“So we’re just getting used to everything now,” Jake Guentzel said about the new digs.
Mike has been a regular at Jake’s Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League games this fall. A Hill-Murray junior, Jake ranked second in scoring during the regular season with 41 points, six behind Team Southeast linemate Justin Kloos of Lakeville South. Kloos earned the league regular-season scoring title with 47 points.
Team Southeast (14-4-3) won the regular season league title with 32 points, four ahead of runner-up Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
Jake Guentzel finished the Elite League's regular season in second place in scoring with 41 points. Photo by Helen Nelson
Normally a center, Guentzel has spent the fall playing wing alongside Kloos. He’s had high-level help making the adjustment to the unfamiliar position.
“On the car rides home we usually have a talk about the game and what I should have done and what I could have done,” said Guentzel, who played for Team Northwest last season as a call up from the Midwest Elite Prep Development League. “It’s nice having that around, my dad helping me get better. He helps me with what I should do on the wing.”
Most of the tips are focused on defensive play. Jake’s offensive instincts, it appears, require precious little tweaking.
The 5-foot-8½ Guentzel and 5-9 Kloos play a similar, imaginative game that routinely confounds opposing defenders. Alternately joined by, in order, Tyler Sheehy of Burnsville, Michael Zajac of Eagan and Scott Nelson of Eastview, Guentzel and Kloos were the constants on one of the highest scoring lines in recent league history.
“The (Zach) Schroeder, (Caleb) Herbert, (Justin) Crandall line two years ago was the best I had coached in this league to that point, and this line (Guentzel, Kloos and Nelson) is at least as good as that group, if not better,” Team Southeast coach Sean Toomey said.
Team Southeast went 2-1-0 on Oct. 22-23 in Eau Claire, Wis., to close out the league’s regular season. Guentzel had a hat trick in Team Southeast’s 6-3 triumph over Team Northwest on Saturday.
Kloos had a goal and an assist, Guentzel had two assists and Nelson had a goal in Team Southeast’s regular season-ending 6-4 triumph over Team Wisconsin.
“They think the game very well,” Toomey said about his top-scoring line. “They are moving to open areas. They find one another. They don’t seem to be hanging on to it too long.
“And they’ve got the knack that everything goes to the net. That’s the key to scoring goals, you’ve got to go to the net.”
1. Jake Guentzel, Team Southeast
The 5-foot-8½, 150-pound junior forward from Hill-Murray continued to tear up Elite League defenses and goaltending, scoring twice in the opening period and adding his third goal – which proved to be the game winner – in the second. He has 14 goals and 24 assists this season.
2. Michael Zajac, Team Southeast
The fast, physical senior forward from Eagan scored a backbreaking power-play goal with 10 seconds left in the second period, giving Team Southeast a comfy 5-2 lead heading into the third.
3. Christian Horn, Team Northwest
A Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior, Horn scored in the first period on a solo rush and was involved in several more Team Northwest scoring chances.
Hill-Murray junior Jake Guentzel scored three goals and added an assist to lead Team Southeast past Team Northwest 6-3 in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Hobbs Ice Center in Eau Claire, Wis.
Guentzel scored twice in the first period and, just a few seconds after shooting wide on a breakaway, notched his third goal with 8 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third period to put Team Southeast (13-3-3) ahead 4-2.
Guentzel has 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) this season, second only to the 44 points scored by Team Southeast linemate Justin Kloos of Lakeville South. Breck’s Grant Opperman and Benilde-St. Margarte’s Grant Besse are tied for third in the league scoring race with 29 points.
Besse scored a breakaway goal just more than 7 minutes into the third period to pull Team Northwest to within 5-3. Team Southeast’s Lance Carney, a junior defenseman from White Bear Lake, closed out the scoring when he scored from close range after passes by Kloos and Guentzel caught the Team Northwest defense out of position.
Michael Zajac of Eagan and Tyler Sheehy of Burnsville also scored for Team Southeast. Christian Horn and Jake O’Borsky, both of Benilde-St. Margaret’s, had the other goals for Team Northwest (8-9-3).