Guentzel Returns to Minnesota Hockey

On Tuesday, the Gopher hockey team announced the return of former assistant coach Mike Guentzel. Guentzel will rejoin the team as the Associate Head Coach after a three-year absence from the Maroon and Gold.

Many Gopher fans will remember Guentzel as the defensive-minded assistant coach whose approach help lead to two national titles and five Frozen Four appearances. Although he had a successful career at Minnesota from 1994-2008, he resigned after the 2008 season in which the Gophers ended up a disappointing 9-12-7 in the WCHA.

Since his departure from Minnesota, Guentzel has kept a busy coaching schedule. In 2008-2009 he became an assistant coach for WCHA foe Colorado College. At CC he helped the Tigers to a 12-9-7 record in the conference, racking up three wins against the Gophers during the regular season.

The next season, Guentzel took the reins of the Des Moines Buccaneers as the head coach and general manager of the USHL squad. The Buccaneers had a disappointing year, ending up 20-34-6.

Last year, Guentzel became the assistant coach for the WCHA's newest team, Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks made quite a debut in the WCHA, finishing the season 17-9-2, en route to a third place finish in the conference. UNO also swept the Gophers at Mariucci, the only team to do so last regular season.

Guentzel's defensive coaching helped the Mavericks to let in just 2.54 goals per game, good for 15th best in the nation.

This coaching style will surely help the Gophers who have gone a combined 51-46-15 and have made no NCAA tournament appearances since Guentzel's departure.

Guentzel's defensive approach is shown in the amount of great blue-liners he has coached. He led All-American defensemen such as Mike Crowley, Keith Ballard and Jordan Leopold to successful careers at Minnesota. A renewed emphasis on of defense could spark the Gophers back into one of the country's elite college hockey teams.

Guentzel's arrival comes as great news for both Gopher hockey fans as well as Guentzel himself.

"I spent 18 years at Minnesota as a player and a coach and am excited about the opportunity to come back and be part of the staff again," he said.

Quotes courtesy of U of M Communications


Gopher Illustrated Top Stories