Forward Jake Guentzel returned to Pittsburgh for prospect development camp this summer after playing his first season for the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Guentzel said he was pleased with how his freshman year went, and the 19-year-old center added he was happy to have fellow Penguins prospect Josh Archibald, a junior winger, as a teammate.
“I just felt like I got more confident,” said Guentzel. “Obviously starting to play at the college level was tough, but ‘Arch’ really took me under his wing and once he did that, I felt a lot better.”
Guentzel finished tied for second on the team with 34 points in 37 games, trailing only Archibald (Guentzel also tied for the team lead in assists with 27). Guentzel said he was lucky to play with Archibald and learned a lot from him.
“He’s a special player,” Guentzel said of Archibald, who made his professional debut for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League (AHL) this year. “Good for him to move on, he deserved it. He was ready for it. I learned a lot and I’m glad I got to look up to him.”
Guentzel is an experienced and accomplished player in his own right. In 2012-13 – his first season with Siox City of the United States Hockey League (USHL) – he led the team with 29 goals and 44 assists for 73 points, and had 11 power-play goals and three game-winners. Guentzel was named the USHL Rookie of the Year and was on the All-Rookie Team.
Then this season – his first one with UNO – Guentzel finished one point shy of tying the school record for points by a freshman. In addition, he made the 2013-14 National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) All-Conference Rookie Team and was the NCHC Rookie of the Month for March/April 2013-14.
“It wasn’t much different,” Guentzel said of the collegiate level of play. “It was just that much faster and everyone was stronger. So you just got to get used to that, and once you do your game gets better.”
In addition to attending this year’s weeklong development camp at CONSOL Energy Center, the forward-thinking player has been conditioning all summer to better himself for the upcoming season.
“Right now, I’m back at school working with my strength guy there,” Guentzel said. “But I’m lucky enough in the summer to work with Cal Dietz, who works out the Minnesota Gophers (Guentzel’s father Mike is an assistant coach for the team). He’s a good guy. I’m just working out and trying to get bigger. My strength is important, but I’m also working on my stride and skating faster. I want to shoot more and score.”