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Guentzel's family steals the spotlight

by Bryanna McDermott / Pittsburgh Penguins

Forward Jake Guentzel welcomed himself to the NHL in spectacular fashion.

He scored two goals in his NHL debut, including posting his first tally on the first shot of his first shift Monday night at PPG Paints Arena against the New York Rangers. 

But it was the 22-year-old rookie's family that stole the show.

"I would have never expected it," Guentzel's father Mike said. "I just hoped he would have a good solid game and not make any mistakes and low and behold a minute into his first shift he scores a goal. It was pretty special. He put a lot of work into his development and he's really been committed over the years, to see it come through for him is a dream for a parent."

Jake's brother, Ryan, was also in attendance with his parents. His reaction seeing his little brother's first NHL goal quickly became a hit on Twitter.

Video: NYR@PIT: Guentzel family erupts for Jake's big debut

"I was just trying to record his first shift and I got caught in the moment," Ryan said of his priceless reaction. "It's something that I'll surely remember for the rest of my life seeing that happen. I may have looked like an idiot, but it was well worth it. I'm so proud of him, words can't even describe it." 

Mike was able to coach both Jake and Ryan, along with the third Guentzel brother, Gabe, throughout their childhoods. Perhaps adding to the joy of watching the spectacular show his youngest son put on display Monday night.

"Jake has always worked hard," Mike said. "He's always loved the game and had a passion for it. It's rewarding for a parent to see that you get out of it what you put into it and Jake has always worked hard for it. I've got nothing but compliments since he's been called up from the Penguins organization, not just about what good of a player he is, but what a good person he is. As a parent, that's what we're really proud of."

The Guentzel family didn't find out that Jake was called up to the Pens until late Sunday afternoon, but nothing could stop them from making the trip from Nebraska to Pittsburgh.

"Jake called at 5 o'clock last night and said he got a called saying he was going up and he was going to get more details in the next hour," Mike said. "Sally (Guentzel's mother) got on the computer right away and figured out how to get ourselves and our son Ryan out here to watch the game. We put it together pretty quickly last night, you're never going to miss something like this."

While the entire Guentzel family was grinning ear-to-ear throughout the game, Jake's mother Sally was left almost speechless.

"I'm extremely proud," said Sally, looking for the right words to describe the moment. "I can't even imagine it being like this tonight. I'm so, so proud of him."

 

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