Iron Range pair forging ahead on the same Minnesota line

by Chris Lempesis

Minnesota’s men’s hockey team has a term for teammates who have been playing together for an extended period.

They call them “brothers,” basically a way for the other members of the team to get a rise out of the players they use the term to describe.

In that case, Gino Guyer and Andy Sertich are certainly worthy of being poked fun at.

The pair of forwards, now in their senior year as Gophers, have been friends since middle school, and have essentially been playing together ever since.

“It’s nice to see two seniors that kind of grew up together and have that relationship both on and off the ice,” coach Don Lucia said.

The two played on a Minnesota Selects junior team early on, but Guyer and Sertich didn’t really get to know each other until Sertich’s family moved to Coleraine (about seven miles northeast of Grand Rapids) in their eighth grade year.

The move to Coleraine almost didn’t happen.

“We were going to move up to the Iron Range and it was either (Coleraine) or Grand Rapids,” Sertich said. “And we had already lived in Grand Rapids when I was really young, so we picked (Coleraine) this time. It worked out.”

And when they did move, Sertich’s family moved in right next door to Guyer’s.

The two became friends and first started playing together regularly in Bantams. They continued to play on the same team all the way through their time at Greenway High School, where they were coached by Guyer’s father, Pat.

At the end of their senior season in 2002, both went off to play for teams in the United States Hockey League; Guyer played for Lincoln, Neb., while Sertich was with Sioux Falls, S.D.

When it came time for them to decide where they wanted to play college hockey, both chose Minnesota ” although it wasn’t something they planned together.

“It wasn’t like we were going to make up our minds together and go to a place,” Sertich said. “We were both looking around and just, I guess, this was the best fit for both of us.

“But it was nice to know that when we came down here, we knew somebody right away.”

After spending a year living in separate rooms in Comstock Hall, Guyer and Sertich ” along with current Gophers Peter Kennedy, Tyler Hirsch and former Gopher Thomas Vanek ” moved into a house together on campus.

Guyer and Sertich still live together now, along with some friends and family from back home, and Kennedy, who hails from Nova Scotia.

“So we’ve kind of got like a northern Minnesota, Iron Range little house here,” Guyer said.

Despite the fact they’ve lived together for the past few years, it’s just been this season that Guyer and Sertich are playing on the same line together, something they’ve done almost all season long and something they hadn’t done since their senior year of high school.

The pair has produced results as Sertich leads the team in overall point improvement from a season ago.

“It’s seems kind of like we picked up where we left off in high school,” Guyer said.

“It feels like the chemistry is still there. He always seems to be where I think he’s going to be, and we’ve always played well when we’ve been together.”

Although Guyer and Sertich have usually turned in good performances when paired up, this might be the last season, at least for a while, that the two will have that opportunity.

Guyer’s rights are owned by the Dallas Stars and Sertich’s are owned by the Pittsburgh Penguins. In addition to the fact that they’ve been on the same team for so long, both were fifth-round selections

Still, while this season might be the last time the two can call each other teammates, both said their friendship will remain.

“We’re going to keep in touch, and if we both end up going our separate ways, play in different systems, we’re always going to be checking up on each other,” Guyer said.

“Because we got a pretty good friendship that I’m sure is going to last a long time.”