Jake Guentzel was familiar with the United States Hockey League long before he played in it.
By the time he finished his first season, opponents had a clear understanding of Guentzel’s skills as well.
A strong finish with the Sioux City Musketeers paved the way for Guentzel to earn USHL Rookie of the Year honors. The award was determined in voting by USHL coaches and general managers.
Guentzel made the decision easier for the voters by finishing the season on a record-tying 21-game scoring streak. Mike Erickson of the Des Moines Buccaneers in the 2003-04 season is the only other player with a 21-game scoring streak since the USHL started its Tier I era in 2002.
With 39 goals and 44 assists in 60 games, Guentzel led all rookies and ranked sixth overall in the USHL in scoring. He had 43 of those points during the scoring streak to help Sioux City, which had been just 9-24-10, put together a 14-6-1 finish.
“I just feel like I had a lot of confidence,” Guentzel said of his big finish. “I also had great linemates in Jake Montgomery and Trevor Olson. They made it real easy for me.”
Guentzel, an 18-year-old who grew up in Woodbury, Minn., knew the USHL well even before Sioux City selected him in the 2010 USHL Futures Draft.
Jake has committed to play college hockey at Nebraska-Omaha. He was born in Omaha when his father, Mike, was coaching the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Mike led the Lancers to back-to-back Clark Cup titles in 1993 and 1994. Jake’s brothers, Ryan and Gabe, played for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede.
“Both my brothers played in the league so I kind of came to their games and watched them growing up,” said Guentzel, whose father is now the associate head coach at the University of Minnesota. “I wanted to play in the league because I knew it’s the best league in America.
“I wanted to get there one day.”
Guentzel did more than just get there.
“Obviously the hockey world has been long aware of Jake’s talents,” USHL president and commissioner Skip Prince said in a league press release. “It runs in the family and the Guentzel legacy in the USHL is lasting.
“The year he had with the Musketeers was a testament to hard work, talent and just a great feel for the game.”
Guentzel is listed 80th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings going into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
The rookie honor was among the season-ending awards announced by the USHL while the league is proceeding toward the end of its Clark Cup Playoffs.
The USHL named Taylor Cammarata of the Waterloo Black Hawks the Forward of the Year and Player of the Year Wednesday.
Cammarata, a 17-year-old from Plymouth, Minn., led the league with 93 points in 59 regular-season games. He scored 38 goals and added 55 assists.
Paul LaDue of the Lincoln Stars was named Defenseman of the Year. The 20-year-old from Grand Forks, N.D. led USHL defensemen in scoring with 12 goals and 37 assists in 62 games. His 83 career points are the most by a defenseman in team history.
Kevin Lindskoug, a 20-year-old from Sweden who played for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, was named Goaltender of the Year.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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