In the third episode of Gopher Hockey: Pride on Ice the Gopher men's hockey team reflects on the 2013 Hockey City Classic outdoor game vs. Wisconsin and ahead to the WCHA Final Five and NCAA Tournament.
Former Minnesota player and assistant coach Mike Guentzel rejoined the Gopher staff on July 13, 2011, as Associate Head Coach after spending three years away from the program.
Guentzel, who played defense for Minnesota from 1981-85 and served as an assistant coach for the Gophers from 1994-08, returned to the Maroon and Gold staff after one year as an assistant coach at Nebraska Omaha during the 2010-11 season. From 2009-10 he was the head coach and general manager of the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers and he was an assistant coach at Colorado College from 2008-09.
Guentzel, 48, is a Marble, Minn., native and during his total tenure behind the Minnesota bench he has helped lead the Gophers to back-to-back national championships, to five NCAA Frozen Fours and to 12 NCAA tournament appearances.
Minnesota has won 382 games, four WCHA playoff championships and four regular season championships with Guentzel on the coaching staff. He coached two Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners, 13 All-Americans and 25 eventual National Hockey League players including defensemen Keith Ballard, Alex Goligoski, Jordan Leopold and Paul Martin.
During the 2011-12 season, Guentzel coached a Minnesota defensive corps that featured one junior, five sophomores and two freshmen. Guentzel's charges yielded a paltry 1.65 goals-against average in home games, which was the lowest for a Minnesota team in the modern era. The team had a 2.75 goals-against average on the road, which was the seventh-lowest for the Gophers in the modern era. The Gophers ended the year with a 2.30 goals-against average, which was twelfth best in the nation. Minnesota's blueliners also contributed offensively, as they recorded 111 points on the year.
Prior to his first stint at Minnesota, Guentzel spent two seasons as head coach and general manager of the Omaha Lancers of the USHL from 1992-94. He led the Lancers to a combined 89-39-2 record, including a 23-11 mark in postseason playoff action. In his first season, Omaha won both the regular season and playoff championships.
Guentzel began his coaching career in 1986 as an assistant coach for the St. Paul Vulcans, being promoted to head coach and general manager in 1989. The Vulcans won the 1990-91 Junior "A" national championship, and the following year he was honored as the USHL Coach of the Year. He also served three years as assistant coach with the U.S. National Junior Team under Dean Blais ('94), Jeff Jackson ('95) and Jack Parker ('96). He has been a member of the coaching staffs of six U.S. national teams including serving as the head coach of the Select-17 Team in 1991.
Guentzel has also served as an interim head coach for Minnesota during three games and was 2-1-0 as the Gophers' bench boss. He was the acting head coach for the Gophers during their 7-2 win against Michigan Tech on March 9, 1996, in the WCHA Final Five. He also went 1-1-0 as interim head coach during the 1996-97 season against Minnesota Duluth.
Guentzel, who captained the 1984-85 Gophers, tallied 87 career points (12 goals, 75 assists) in 143 games at Minnesota. He graduated from Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in business and human relations.
Following his collegiate career, the 1981 draft pick of the New York Rangers, briefly played professional hockey for the Salt Lake City Golden Eagles of the IHL and the New Haven Night Hawks of the AHL.
Guentzel was a standout athlete at Greenway-Coleraine High School and was First Team All-State selection in hockey during the 1980-81 season. He was the Minnesota Iron Range Conference's second-leading scorer in 1980-81 and scored 153 points and 42 goals in four years of high school hockey.
He also played football and baseball and earned a total of 12 varsity letters. Guentzel threw 15 TD passes and rushed for 1,243 yards as a junior in 1979. He also played on three Greenway-Coleraine baseball teams that finished third in state tournament.
Guentzel and his wife, Sally, have three sons: Ryan, Gabe and Jake. Ryan played collegiate hockey at Notre Dame, while Gabe played at Colorado College. Jake plays hockey as well and is a senior in high school.