It should be an interesting Christmas in Roseau for the Broten family, especially if the conversation turns to college hockey.
Shane Gersich, the nephew of former Rams greats Neal, Aaron and Paul Broten, will be in town with his family to celebrate the holidays, and Gersich is a bit unsure of the reception he will receive.
A Holy Family Catholic sophomore, Gersich announced on Thursday night that he has committed to play at the University of North Dakota, a surprising choice for many observers. All three Brotens – and Gersich’s father, Frank – played at the University of Minnesota.
“I haven’t talked to any of my uncles,” said Gersich, who said he did call his grandfather, Newell Broten, to break the news. “He was pretty short.
“We’ll see what Christmas is like up there.”
Kidding aside, Gersich said he is relieved to have the decision out of the way. He said the choice came down to Minnesota or North Dakota, and that making the call to Gophers coach Don Lucia to break the news, “was very tough.”
A 5-foot-11, 175-pound center, Gersich shares the Holy Family Catholic scoring lead with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in seven games. One of the most coveted recruits in the nation in his age group, Gersich scored 30 goals and added 30 assists in 21 games last season. He missed part of last season to play for a U.S. junior team in a national tournament overseas.
“The thing is, everybody assumed he was going to be a Gopher,” Holy Famly Catholic coach Noel Rahn said about Gersich, who was the top pick in the USHL futures draft last spring. “I was surprised more people hadn’t at least inquired about him.
“I think a lot of colleges thought, ‘You know what, I’m not even going to go there because he is going to be a Gopher.’ I’m sure there are some colleges out there going, ‘Holy mackerel, we maybe goofed up here by not going after him.’ ”
Gersich’s commitment to the Fighting Sioux comes just a few days after his buddy, St. Cloud Cathedral’s Austin Poganski, committed to North Dakota. Gersich said he became great friends with Poganski, a junior forward, while playing at USA Hockey national camps this summer.
“He’s a great player,” Gersich said about Poganski. “I think he can shoot and score and he can pass. He’s a big body, and he understands the game really well.”
Gersich said it wasn’t a package deal for the Fighting Sioux – Gersich and Poganski or neither one.
“Not really,” Gersich said. “We’ve been talking throughout the process. I kind of said I want to go to North Dakota, and he said he did, too.”
Gersich said he chose to attend Victoria-based Holy Family Catholic in part because of its small-school atmosphere, and he got a similar feel on his trip to Grand Forks, N.D.
“I loved the small-town feel, and I loved the campus,” Gersich said. “You couldn’t ask for a better rink obviously. I really loved the coaching staff, it doesn’t get any better than those guys.”
Both Gersich and Rahn said the distraction of choosing a college might have affected Gersich’s play early in the season.
“It’s definitely a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Gersich said.
Added Rahn: “I think this decision was really weighing on him. He’s been really, really good for us the last two games. He just feels like the load is off his back. It’s hard for a 16-year-old kid to go through everything he has gone through.”