One of the reasons for the Capitals’ success over the last decade is the deep organizational depth they have. Under Ross Mahoney’s lead, the team has consistently drafted well, especially late in drafts. 2014 fifth-round-pick Shane Gersich appears to be another one of those late-round gems.
Last week, the sophomore forward went viral on social media and landed on SportsCenter after scoring a ridiculous spin-o-rama goal against Denver University. Gersich won a National Championship during his freshman season with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks last year.
The 20-year-old forward currently leads UND in both points (17) and goals (9) in 12 games. Last week, I spoke to Gersich and asked about his sensational goal and how he thought up of the idea. I also asked Gersich about his family’s famous hockey lineage and what former North Dakota players and current Capitals Taylor Chorney and TJ Oshie said in their visit three weeks ago.
How are you doing today and what am I interrupting in your college schedule right now?
Shane Gersich: I’m doing good. You’re really not interrupting anything! I had two classes this morning and we have practice at 2:45pm.
Over the last week, you’ve received a ton of attention from your spin-o-rama goal. Is that the biggest goal you’ve ever scored in your career – in terms of how flashy it was?
Shane Gersich: Yeah, I’d say it was probably the biggest goal I’ve scored or coolest goal I’ve scored. I haven’t really tried to do any moves or do anything like that, so yeah it probably is.
How did that come about – have you practiced it before? Was there a certain someone that had done it before and inspired you?
Shane Gersich: Me and (UND alternate captain) Brock Boeser watch a lot of footage of Patrick Kane and Evgeni Malkin. Those are the two guys who have both done that.
Malkin’s spin-o-rama goal against Edmonton, 11/28/15
Malkin’s spin-o-rama goal against Dallas, 03/16/13
As far as practicing it, I don’t know if I’ve practiced that exact move, but I know I skate a lot with Associate Head Coach Dane Jackson and Assistant Coach Matt Shaw in the mornings. We work on a lot of skill moves and drills, and that includes a lot of spins and stuff like that. Maybe it just came about from that.
I saw that ESPN put you on their top 10 list, I’m assuming that’s a first for you?
Shane Gersich: Yeah, I think it kind of blew up on Twitter. It was on SportsCenter too, so yeah, that was a first.
I know a few weeks ago, UND alums Taylor Chorney and TJ Oshie drove down to Grand Forks during their off day in Winnipeg to talk to you guys. What do you recall from that meeting a few weeks ago?
Shane Gersich: It’s obviously nice when a few guys like that come down. It shows how strong our culture here is at North Dakota when guys like that want to come back and see what’s going on here. We were playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers that week, so they came down, watched one of our practices, talked with us, and gave us a little speech to get us going for that week. It was a big week, huge rivalry.
I didn’t get a chance to see who won the game, but did you guys win or did Minnesota win?
Shane Gersich: We tied two Fridays ago and then we lost on Saturday – the next day.
How does the 3-on-3 overtime work in your league, because I know that when a lot of fans were reading about your spin-o-rama goal, it didn’t technically win the game – it got you guys an extra point. How does that work in NCAA?
Shane Gersich: They do five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime and if you win it in that you get all three points and then they do five minutes of 3-on-3 and if you win it in that you get two out of the three points and the other team gets one out of the three points.
I know you’re a Minnesota boy… When did you first put skates on as a kid? Do you remember?
Shane Gersich: I was really young. I have a lot of family that played hockey, my uncles and my dad all played hockey. I can remember playing on the ponds in Minnesota, outdoor rinks and stuff like that. I think I was two or three-years-old when I first started. I grew up around hockey, it’s kind of in my bloodline.
Shane Gersich: They were obviously in my life a lot, but we actually don’t talk about hockey too much. They’re an incredible resource if I need them, but at the same time, when we’re around their family, we’re not really talking about hockey too much. I think my dad (Frank Gersich played three seasons at the University of Minnesota) was probably more influential as far as helping me in terms of my love for the sport.
What did your dad do in terms of your hockey career growing up?
Shane Gersich: He coached me my whole life growing up. He’s been really good with that. He was always on the rink with me growing up and helping me shape my game, someone I look up to.
I know that you’ve been to the last three Caps Development Camps right?
Shane Gersich: Yup.
What was the feedback you got back from coaches?
Shane Gersich: Coming off my freshman season last year, it was more of a learning year for me. We had a ton of great leaders on our UND team, our coaching staff was really good with working with me. I was kind of in a role last year where I wasn’t the go-to guy or anything like that. This year, I wanted to have a really good summer and come back to school here and be someone that is the go-to guy and someone that is an impact player every night for the team. That was kind of the message that it is kind of a big year in terms of that.
I know that you guys won the National Championship last year, was that the first time at any level that you’ve won a championship of that caliber?
Shane Gersich: When I was in Ann Arbor we won the U18 World Championships so that was another big one, but besides that, that’s pretty much it.
How all out does the school go when you guys win championships there? Did you guys get rings?
Shane Gersich: Yeah. That’s something really cool that all of us have to remember that.
Excited to chase after another one of these!! pic.twitter.com/buX7l8dHYd
— Shane Gersich (@shane_gersich9) September 28, 2016
So moving forward in your career, what do you think that you personally have to work on most to make the next step to the NHL? I know you’re a sophomore now – are you going to stay all four years?
Shane Gersich: I’m confident in my abilities right now. I think moving forward I just have to keep playing my own game. I like to play a fast game, use my speed a lot obviously, and at the same time keep on putting on some weight and getting stronger.
One of the guys that made the Capitals out of training camp was Zach Sanford, who played for Boston College last year and left after his junior season. It seems like players in college can develop pretty rapidly.
Shane Gersich: Yeah, I think college is a great route in terms of developing. In junior hockey, you’re probably playing against older guys that are like 21, but in college there’s 25-year-olds. It’s a tough game every night. We play two games a weekend and they’re all really intense and there’s a ton of battles. You’ve got to be strong and as far as off-ice work, the way the schedule works gives us a lot of time to develop in the weight room and stuff like that. We’re working out a few times a week, you make big strides during the year too.
Have you picked a major yet so far?
Shane Gersich: Yeah, I’m going to major in Communications.
I ask this to a lot of guys, do you have any career aspirations if hockey doesn’t work out?
Shane Gersich: I don’t really think about that. If it doesn’t work out, I’d wanna stay in hockey and do something within hockey.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 27, 2016
Transcription and additional reporting by Chris Cerullo.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.