Part of any successful team is good player depth. Not everyone is the center of attention, but everyone needs to contribute in order for the team to be successful.
For the University of North Dakota, freshman Shane Gersich has been one of the players that have fit the bill perfectly this season.
The Chaska, MN native has played in 36 of the Fighting Hawks’ 41 games to date. It isn’t hard to miss him on the ice as Gersich is one of North Dakota’s fastest players. His speed is one of his best assets, and learning to utilize that asset to benefit his team is an area that he has already begun to make strides in.
“The coaches constantly work with me on that,” said Gersich. “I talk to them every day about it and we work on different types of drills and stuff that help me to use my speed better. I try to use my speed as much as I can. This year, I think it’s been more about puck management. So what I think the coaches are trying to get me to do is learn how to use those things together and more effectively. And that’s I’m trying to do.”
Gersich admits that when he first arrived in Grand Forks, it took some time to adjust to the college game. In the process, he has been able to add another dimension to his game.
“It took some time for me to make the adjustment, but I think the biggest thing for me was gaining confidence and making the right plays, stuff like that”, Gersich said. “As the year progressed, I think I’ve gotten better and started to play a lot better defensively. I think that was something that I didn’t put much emphasis on in past years, but coming here to North Dakota, you have to be able to play a fairly good defensive game.”
Two teammates that Gersich credits for helping him through the adjustment process are seniors Drake Caggiula and Coltyn Sanderson.
“There are a few guys that have helped me,” said the freshman forward. “One of them is Drake. He’s obviously a great player. He stays after the practice every day working on things and just works his tail off. It’s something that I look up to and admire about him. Coltyn is another guy. He might not get all the attention and accolades but he’s always out on the ice in the morning and takes us freshmen out there and helps us with drills and all that.”
Like virtually all other collegiate players, Gersich hopes to one day play in the NHL, specifically for the Washington Capitals, the team that selected him in the fifth round (134th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.
He attended the Capitals development camp last summer and plans to attend again this summer. Gersich says that the team has kept tabs on him in a rather unusual way.
“I’ve talked to them a few times during the season,” explained Gersich. “As one of their prospects, I have to fill out this form once a week and send it back to them.”
While Gersich still has a ways to go in his overall development, he has begun to show glimpses of what he is capable of doing. And that bodes well, not only for his future success, but also for the continued success of his North Dakota team.
Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF