Shane Gersich carries the puck up ice in 2011 against Delano. Photo by Helen Nelson
Just in case Section 6, Class 2A wasn’t already tough enough, there’s a new power on the horizon.
Featuring Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Hopkins and more, the next heavyweight to bring firepower to the section is little Holy Family Catholic.
The school of just under 600 students from Victoria won 18 games last year while relying heavily on a pair of freshmen, most notably forward Shane Gersich.
Gersich is the face of the program, and his 60 points last season demonstrate why. He also scored 41 points for the Fire as an eighth-grader.
Lured to Holy Family Catholic by coach Noel Rahn, Gersich and linemate John Peterson decided the opportunity to build their own program was more enticing than being just another face at one of the more well-known schools in their section.
Up to this point, the Fire haven’t been able to challenge any of the strongholds in Section 6, but with a year of improvement and experience it’s hard to predict a ceiling in potential for Gersich and Holy Family Catholic.
It’s easy however to feel the confidence of the program, especially looking at the Fire's schedule for 2012-2013, which starts with St. Thomas Academy, Elk River, Totino-Grace, and Rochester Lourdes in the first month.
This summer, Gersich was drafted first overall in the USHL Futures Draft. He also thrived in the tough competition in the U-17 Five Nations tournament in the Czech Republic, where he represented the U.S.
Although he hurt his shoulder in the middle of the tourney, he still managed to put up nine points (four goals, five assists) in just three games that included an exhibition opener against Germany.
He will also lace up the skates with Team Southwest in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League alongside Edina stars Connor Hurley, Dylan Malmquist, Parker Reno and Bo Brauer. Peterson and teammate Dylan Woolf are on Team Northeast.
We caught up with Gersich and asked about his eventful summer and an exciting season ahead.
Holy Family Catholic head coach Noel Rahn gives instruction to his players and Gersich (9) during a timeout. Photo by Helen Nelson
Question: First off, how’s the shoulder?
Answer: It’s getting a lot better, I actually skated today and yesterday so I should be back soon.
Q: Will it be healed in time for the Elite League?
A: I took off probably two weeks but I probably won’t be back for another week.
Q: When did it get hurt?
A: The second real game so we had an exhibition game, then we had two games then the end of the second game.
Q: How hard was it to sit and watch the last games after you got hurt?
A: Oh it was really hard. I still dressed and put on my equipment and sat on the bench with all the boys but it was hard to watch.
Q: Not that an injury is ever nice, but you’ve been up to so much this summer, has it been nice to take a little breather?
A: It’s been a busy summer. I was in New York for a week and then I got back for a little bit, had a little bit of rest time then I went to Europe. These last two weeks have been pretty nice just taking a break.
Q: In your three games in the Czech Republic, you had four goals and five assists. How were you so dominant?
A: I’ve been training really hard this summer at Velocity and also I’ve played with Austin Poganski who I played with in New York so we had some good chemistry.
Q: Did you have time to do much else besides play hockey while you were overseas?
A: Actually one day they took us and we toured Prague. It took like six hours and we got some free time in Prague together so it was cool. It’s a cool city.
Q: What was the favorite thing you saw?
A: We saw a lot of old buildings, I don’t know what they were called but it was cool.
Q: What is the hockey experience of kids from other states on Team USA? Where do they normally play?
A: I think a few of them are playing for their U-16 team this year. It depends on what that is, it could be like the Chicago Mission or something. Then a lot of kids from out east go to a prep school and then there are a few that are playing in the USHL this year.
Q: You and the other Minnesotans go to regular old high school. What does that say about the state of hockey?
A: It’s cool, it shows that our high school hockey is great. In the exhibition game, the Minnesota kids had all the goals so it’s pretty cool.
Q: Do the Minnesotans stick together off the ice?
A: Yeah I think a lot of Minnesota kids hang out together off the ice, the kids kinda chirp us for it but we still hang out together.
Q: Tell me about your choice to go to Holy Family for high school?
A: I think Noel going over there was a big decision for me whether I was gonna go there or not. Honestly all my buddies from Chaska were going and John Peterson and Ryan Swanson were joining me. At the same time it’s right in my backyard so it was a pretty easy decision.
Q: It’s not every day you see a new program pop up onto the map. How much pride do you take in being the face of Holy Family and building it from the ground up?
A: I wanted to create my own school and not follow everyone. And then having that great group of kids going over too made it that much easier. At the same time I think Noel Rahn has done a great job of promoting Holy Family.
Q: Can you hang with the big boys this season?
A: I think so. Hopefully we go a little bit futher in the playoffs, it was tough playing Benilde early last year. We’re a year older and I don’t think we can use that excuse that we’re young anymore. I think we’ll have a lot of experience going into this year.
Q: What would you say is the goal for the team?
A: As a team goal I think I wanna go further in the playoffs and try to make the state tournament.
Q: Do you think you can catch the point totals that the Cisar brothers from Moose Lake set last year?
A: I think that’s a lot of points but I think if we work hard and me and John Peterson will be close this year but I don’t know, that’s a lot of points.
Q: Is that something you aim for? A 100 points or so?
A: I like scoring goals and setting up my teammates but I don’t really have a goal of points, I just go out there every night and try to score so whatever happens happens.
Q: What do you think you improved on the most this summer?
A: To be honest last year I would hang onto the puck a little bit more and shoot a lot more but this year playing with Austin Poganski at national camp and in Europe I see myself passing a lot more, setting up guys. I think in Czech in those two real games I had five assists and one goal so my passing has gotten a lot better.
Q: Colleges absolutely have to be calling you?
A: Yeah, I think so. I’m not really ready to commit anywhere. I’ll tour a few schools this fall and we’ll see from there.
Q: Do you know where you’re visiting?
A: I think to North Dakota and I’m not really sure.
Q: Where else have you been getting attention from?
A: I don’t really know, I don’t really deal with any of that so I’m not really sure.
Q: Is it tough dealing with all this attention on a regular basis?
A: At times it gets to be a little too much, especially at school there’s a lot of pressure but I mean it doesn’t really affect me. I just try to go out and play the game, and everything works from there.
School: Holy Family Catholic
Credentials: In two years at the high school level (he played as an eighth grader) Gersich has amassed 101 points. That works out to 41 in 2010-11 (16 goals, 25 assists) and 60 as a freshman (30 goals, 30 assists). Everywhere he's been he's dominated, as showcased by his four goals and five assists in just three games representing the U.S. in the Five Nations tournament in the Czech Republic. He was also taken first overall in the USHL Futures Draft this year.
College committment: Just a sophomore, Gersich hasn't committed anywhere quite yet. He says he has plenty of suitors but that he doesn't really handle that information yet, he just lets others take care of it. He does have a visit planned to North Dakota in the fall.
Facebook or Twitter? Twitter. (His handle is @shane_gersich9 and he's well worth a follow.)
Do you think you have the best Twitter game in the state? It’s up there.
If there is an NHL lockout, what sport would you watch in it's place? I dunno, maybe basketball.
Black or white tape? Black.
Do you flop the toungue on your skates? No.
Favorite fast food? I dunno, I don't really eat fast food that much so probably Quiznos.
Favorite away rink to play in? Edina, Braemar.
Dream vacation spot? California, by the ocean.
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