This season has been like a homecoming of sorts for Plantation native Gabe Guertler.
Guertler, 18, is a forward for the University of Minnesota men's hockey team. His father is a St. Paul native with several family members and friends back in the Twin Cities. Guertler and his father have had so many conversations about his son being a Gopher.
With Guertler and the Golden Gophers (27-6-6) playing in the Frozen Four starting Thursday, the hope is the father and son could talk about what it is like to be a national champion.
"I think it is pretty special for him," said Guertler, when describing what it was like for his father to see him play for Minnesota. "My grandpa has made it to a few games. My dad's cousins and friends have made it to a few games, too. I think it is pretty cool that he can talk and text with his friends about the games."
Guertler is one of a few ties the state of Florida has to the tournament. Union goaltender Shayne Gostisbehere is from Margate while Boston College's Austin Cangelosi is from Estero, near Naples.
Minnesota, one of college hockey's most stories programs, is chasing an elusive sixth national title and its first since 2003.
It will have to get past rival North Dakota (25-13-3) first.
Guertler, who is 5-foot-9 and 191 pounds, has scored five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 22 games this season.
"It is an adjustment," he said of playing at Minnesota. "My thinking has been any time you go from any league to a new league, it is an adjustment."
Guertler, who went to American Heritage in Plantation his freshman year, grew up playing for the Florida Junior Panthers and the South Florida Golden Wolves.
He left home to play midget hockey in Chicago and was then drafted second overall by the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League Futures Draft in 2011.
Guertler starred for the Force playing two seasons in Fargo. He scored 79 points in 119 games leading the Force to the USHL Finals in his second season.
Prior to his first season with the Force, Guertler committed to Minnesota. He became the first Florida-born player to play hockey for the school.
"I love it here," he said of the school. "It is pretty big and that's one of the reasons I chose to come here. There's 50,000 kids who go to school here. The school is a lot bigger than most people think."