Guentzel Prepares To Face Colorado College, Son

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Go Gophers! Mike Guentzel
Go Gophers!
Mike Guentzel's son, Gabe, plays for Colorado College, who is the Gophers opponent this weekend.
Go Gophers!
Minnesota Associate Head Coach Mike Guentzel and the Gophers face Colorado College this weekend. Guentzel's son, Gabe, is a senior defenseman for the Tigers. Mike is 1-1-0 against Gabe, as the two teams split a series last year when Mike was at Nebraska Omaha. We talked to Mike this morning about facing his son once again.

GopherSports: Mike, your son, Gabe, plays for Colorado College who happens to visit Mariucci Arena this weekend. You have experience coaching against Gabe when you were at Nebraska Omaha last season. What is it like?

Mike Guentzel: It is a situation where you hope he does well. I want him to play well and have a great experience. As I told him at Christmas, I don't care if he gets four or five points as long as we win. I want him to leave knowing that he is getting better and playing well, but this is my livelihood and he understands that. I want him to be very successful, but I want to win the games and that is what we are preparing for this week.

GS: Was it a little odd last year being on the opposite bench of him?

MG: Dean (Blais) took me with the team last year. Mike Hastings said I was going to go as well. I said I did not need all that drama and stress, but I went with the team and it was good. They beat us the first night and we rebounded and beat them the second night, so we got a split. Ultimately, everybody was somewhat happy because we each won a game. There was nothing gained, nothing lost and no bragging rights.

GS: How much attention can you pay to Gabe during a game? Obviously, you are checking to see if he is playing well.

MG: It depends upon what your responsibilities are as a coach. If we are on the penalty kill and he is obviously on the power play then I will be paying attention to certain things that we will be doing and what he will be doing. But I have pairings and different things going on during the course of the game, so it is really hard to concentrate on some things. When you see goals go in, you pay attention to who is out there for and against. You see those kinds of things and you can see a guy make a nice pass, but there are a lot of little things that you miss during the course of the game that you see on video afterwards.

GS: You are his dad, so you know his game better than anyone else. Can you give us a scouting report on him?

MG: He is smart. He moves the puck and competes real hard. He is agile and does a lot of good things. He is typical third, fourth, fifth defenseman who is a good puck mover and does well on the power play. I think he has 85 career points now. He has exceeded what I think they thought he was going to do. He has certainly exceeding what I thought he was going to do as a college player. I read the other day that he has played 140 of 142 games at CC, so he has been a regular and played well more than I ever thought he would. He plays 30 minutes a night and plays in all areas. Sometimes I would say that he even plays too much, but that is a good problem too.

GS: Is there a fine line that you have to walk when talking to him about our players or talking to our players about him and how he plays?

MG: No, because we are in an area of video and extreme preparation. I know they prepare their team really well with video and meetings. All of our games are on TV, so Gabe watches our games as a fan of the sport. He obviously wants to see his dad do well. These days, with summer camps and with playing in juniors guys know how players play. They know who the good players are. Gabe is in an environment where he has to play against the other team's best players, so he knows all about Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau and Zach Budish and our top-end players. He is going to have to face them shift after shift.

GS: You have coached against him before, but you also coached at Colorado College during his freshman year. What was that like?  

MG: I was on the staff coaching the forwards at the other end, but I was there. That can be stressful , because you are hoping that he does not make a mistake to cost you the game. It was his freshman year so he was trying to fit in, trying to adjust and trying to gain roles and responsibility. I am trying to watch the team and figure out how we can get better. I kind of had one eye on the team and one eye on my son, hoping that things go well for him. There is no question that it is a stressful situation that you have to deal with.

GS: It is unique for you to coach against your son, but it also has to be unique for our players to play against a son of a coach. I talked to one player who said they want to win both games for you, but also said that he would have no problem hitting the coach's son.

MG: Last year, I thought one of our guys at UNO almost ended his career running him from behind. You are certainly not going to have guys pull up. We have to play hard and we have to play the right way. These are big home games for us. We have lost the last two home games and we have to get back on the winning track at home. Our objective is to win Friday and to try and prepare to get ready on Saturday to hopefully win another game.

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