When the Hershey Bears won their twelfth Calder Cup championship in June, Shane Gersich accomplished something that no other player who was drafted by and played for the Washington Capitals had ever done – at least, as far as publicly available stats tell us.
Gersich completed a rare Beaglian trifecta, winning the Calder Cup, the Stanley Cup, and an NCAA Division I championship. And he did so in a span of seven years.
Gersich first won the NCAA title with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks in 2016, two years after being selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Capitals. Gersich scored in the National Championship game against Sam Anas’s Quinnipiac, helping the Fighting Hawks capture the 2016 National Championship.
Two years later, Gersich brought his good vibes to the Capitals as a black ace. Not expected to play in the postseason, Gersich was inserted into the lineup by Barry Trotz during the team’s second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gersich got the opportunity after Tom Wilson was suspended three games for a high hit on Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese. Gersich would play two games in that series, which saw the Caps down the Pens in six games and go on to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
Several years later, Gersich struck a one-year AHL deal with the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, for the 2022-23 season.
Gersich’s biggest moment of the season came when he scored the Bears’ series-winning goal — his first of the 2023 playoffs — in the Eastern Conference Finals to eliminate the Rochester Americans in six games.
Gerschy's first of the playoffs has us on the board after 40 minutes of play!
🍏 Carlsson pic.twitter.com/DkxeoqMcBi
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) June 3, 2023
Gersich’s series-winner came after scoring nine goals in 53 games during the regular season. The Chaska, MN native began the 2023 playoffs as a healthy scratch due to Hershey’s deep roster, but he got an opportunity from head coach Todd Nelson after first-line winger Ethen Frank struggled to score in the postseason.
Before Gersich, there were only four other known players, per a CollegeHockey.com list updated through 2022 and research on EliteProspects.com, who have gotten their name etched on the Stanley Cup, won an NCAA championship, and lifted the Calder Cup. (Please note: There could be more players who qualify such as black aces of NHL championship teams like Gersich that were not etched onto the Stanley Cup and included on the CollegeHockey.com list.)
Those four players are defenseman Bruce Driver, center Tony Hrkac, right winger Joe Murphy, and center Mike Polich. Murphy is the only other player who has suited up for the Capitals, playing 43 regular season games and 5 postseason games for Washington in 2000.
Driver, a sixth round pick of the Colorado Rockies of the 1981 NHL Draft, was a two-time NCAA champion with the Wisconsin Badgers, winning the titles in 1981 and 1983. Driver was the captain of the Badgers’ championship team in 1983, notching 50 (16g, 34a) 39 games. He would later lift the Calder Cup with the 1984 Maine Mariners, tallying 10 assists in 16 games for the New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate. The rearguard would capture the Stanley Cup in 1995 as an alternate captain of the Devils – the franchise’s first championship. Driver, now 61, retired after the 1997-98 season after playing 75 games for the New York Rangers. He played 922 career NHL games, posting 486 points (96g, 390a).
“As a kid growing up in Toronto, I had many fond memories of pretending to score the game-winner in the Cup-clinching game,” Driver said in 2023 of his Devils’ championship. “Winning The Cup the way we did truly was a dream come true!”
Like Gersich, Hrkac, a second round pick (32nd overall) of the St. Louis Blues in the 1984 NHL Draft, was a member of a UND championship team. For the 1987 championship team, Hrkac had 116 points (46g, 70a) in 48 NCAA games. Twelve years later, Hrkac was a member of the 1999 Dallas Stars team that won the Stanley Cup (Brett Hull scored the series-winner while with his skate in the crease). Five years later as his career was winding down, Hrkac helped lead the Milwaukee Admirals to the franchise’s only Calder Cup in 2004, posting 20 points (8g, 12a) in 22 postseason games. Hrkac scored 371 points (132g, 239a) in 758 NHL games.
Murphy, the first overall pick of the Detroit Red Wings in the 1986 NHL Draft, won the NCAA title the same year with the Michigan State Spartans after posting 61 points (24g, 37a) in 35 games. Three years later, he’d lift the Calder Cup with the 1988-89 Adirondack Red Wings after notching 17 points (6g, 11a) in 16 games. In 1990, Murphy completed the trifecta, lifting the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers. Murphy posted 528 points (233g, 295a) in 779 career NHL games, playing his final game with the Capitals in December 2000.
Polich, a native of Hibbing, Minnesota, won a NCAA national championship with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in 1974 after notching 52 points (19g, 33a) in 40 games that year. The pivot would lift the Calder Cup twice in his career, winning an AHL championship in back-to-back years with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs in 1976 and 1977. Polich would also win a championship with the Montreal Canadiens’ 1977 Cup team after playing five postseason games that year. He did not suit up for the Habs once during the regular seaason. Polich, now 69, played his final NHL game in 1980-81 for the Minnesota North Stars. Polich had 53 points (24g, 29a) in 226 career NHL games.
There is one other player from the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup team that completed the NCAA/AHL/NHL championship trifecta when Gersich did, but as a player and coach. Brooks Orpik won a NCAA championship in 2001 with the Boston College Eagles and the Stanley Cup twice (Pittsburgh, 2009; Washington, 2018). He nearly won a Calder Cup in 2003-04 with the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins, but the team was swept in four games by Hrkac’s Milwaukee Admirals in the 2004 Calder Cup Finals. Orpik served as a Development Coach with the Capitals and Bears in 2022-23. He was on the ice and lifted the Calder Cup for the first time in Coachella Valley.
Headline photo: Katie Fri/Hershey Bears
RMNB 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.