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Penguins' 6th-round pick Tiffels learning to fire away

| Friday, July 17, 2015, 5:30 p.m.
Penguins prospect Dominik Uher shoots the puck during the Prospect Development Camp on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Penguins prospect Dominik Uher shoots the puck during the Prospect Development Camp on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Frederik Tiffels has this going for him: You won't have to tell him to shoot the puck.

He has heard it before. A lot.

Like when he played for Muskegon (Mich.) of the United States Hockey League in 2012-13. And again this past season at Western Michigan University.

“That was one of the things that (WMU) Coach (Andy) Murray wanted me to do: shoot the puck more because there's a greater percentage of scoring a goal if you shoot the puck more,” Tiffels said.

So the left wing did.

And the 11 goals on 87 shots Tiffels scored as a freshman last season — a success rate of 12.6 percent on 2.7 shots per game — gave him confidence.

It gave plenty to the Penguins, too, as they selected Tiffels in the sixth round (167th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

The organization's co-director of amateur scouting, Randy Sexton, was so happy at the NHL Draft that he said, “We think we got a sleeper here. We're pretty excited about him.”

Tiffels, a native of Germany, has solid size — he's 6-foot, 192 pounds — and plays a skilled game. He also seems fairly unflappable.

You'd have to be to play for three USHL teams in 44 days, which he did in 2013-14, and still produce 13 goals and 37 points in 56 games.

“Yeah, that was different,” Tiffels said, recalling trades to Fargo and Cedar Rapids within a month and a half.

“I had actually gone back to Germany for World Juniors and heard about the trade to Cedar Rapids. It was crazy, but everything worked out.”

Midwestern tradition

Jake Guentzel was born in Omaha, Neb., which hardly qualifies as a hockey hotbed.

But instead of choosing football or wrestling, he fell into the family business.

Guentzel's brothers played college hockey (Ryan at Notre Dame, Gabe at Colorado College), and his dad is a former AHL player and currently is associate head coach at the University of Minnesota.

“When I was young, I put the skates on and loved it,” Guentzel said. “It's the one thing I wanted to do.”

Uher signs

The Penguins announced an agreement with their final restricted free agent, forward Dominik Uher, a one-year, two-way contract that pays him $575,000 at the NHL level.

Uher, 22, is coming off a career-best year in which he produced 13 goals and 26 points in 72 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.

After making his NHL debut Dec. 23, 2014, Uher played in two games with the Penguins last season.

The 13 goals in 2014-15 represent a bit of an outlier for the Czech forward, who's more of a grinder than a scorer. He scored just 11 times in his first 121 AHL games.

Ouch, that hurts

Thursday was rowing day for prospects and coaches, the latter having a worse time coping the day after.

“All I can tell you is I had a hard time tying my skates this morning my hamstrings were so tight,” Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach Mike Sullivan said.

“The coaches were in one boat. We had to make sure there wasn't a weight limit so that we weren't taking on water.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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