Jake Guentzel enjoys unexpected day with Stanley Cup

Author: Jessi Pierce, NHL.com Correspondent
Date: Jul 17, 2017

WOODBURY, Minn. -- When the Stanley Cup touched down in Minneapolis on Thursday and was on its way to Jake Guentzel's hometown, that's the moment it really sunk in for the Pittsburgh Penguins forward.

"That's when it becomes real," Guentzel said. "It's exciting. You've worked so hard for this your whole life, and to have my family and friends here and see how excited they are, it makes it fun for all of us."

Guentzel said if you told him one year ago that he'd be standing at his youth rink with the Stanley Cup, "I'd probably have laughed at you. You don't expect it to go like this. It's been fun. [I'm] just trying to soak it in."

It's been a whirlwind eight-plus months for the 22-year-old, who started last season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the American Hockey League. In his own words: "It's been a crazy year."

First there was the call-up for his NHL debut against the New York Rangers on Nov. 21, when he scored his first and second NHL goals -- on his first two shots on goal.

Guentzel had 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 40 regular-season games. He led the League with 13 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the winner in Game 1 and Game 2 of the Cup Final against the Nashville Predators, and tied the NHL rookie playoff record with 21 points (Minnesota North Stars forward Dino Ciccarelli, 1981; Philadelphia Flyers forward Ville Leino, 2010).

"We were just hoping he'd get to play maybe five or 10 games in the pros to start," said Mike Guentzel, Jake's father and an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota. "It's been a dream come true for all of us."

The dream was completed Thursday. Guentzel first brought the Cup center stage for the public at HealthEast Sports Center, where he had honed his skills as a youth player in the Woodbury Hockey Association.

"I wouldn't be here without this rink and growing up here," Guentzel said. "I spent so many hours from mites to bantams here, so I wanted to give back to the community."

From there, Guentzel took the Cup to an undisclosed bar and restaurant for some private time with family and friends before capping the day off with a round of golf.

"It's hard to put it all into a day," Guentzel said. "You have so many things you want to do, but sometimes the time isn't there and you realize you can't do everything you want to do, so you just try and put a schedule together and be as close to on time as you can be for everything.

"It's just a lot of fun to share it with everybody."

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