COLERAINE — Andy Sertich, a favorite son of Greenway fans, can’t be happier in his new role as head coach of the Greenway High School boys hockey team..
Sertich took over as head coach of the team this season, replacing previous coach Grant Clafton who resigned to pursue other interests. As a player, Sertich was a key member of the Raiders’ 2001 state tournament team, and he was an assistant coach on the last Raider team to play at state.
After graduating from Greenway in 2002, Sertich played four years at the University of Minnesota where he was a member of a national championship team. Following his play with the Gophers, the Pittsburgh Penguins draftee spent the next decade playing professional hockey in various leagues. He spent his final seven years playing in Europe.
Sertich said he is happy to be at the helm of the Raiders team.
“I wanted to get involved in Greenway hockey and help these kids,” said Sertich. “It was just the right progression; it is really nice to be involved. My kids are playing hockey and I graduated from Greenway and have a lot of great memories so I wanted to give back a little bit and continue teaching these kids the right way to play the game and how to be good people.”
It is Sertich’s first job as a head coach and he said it has been a little different with the pandemic and the uncertainty of even having a season.
“It is not ideal conditions for your first year as a head coach but at the same time I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it because we had seven days of practice and then we started playing our first game,” he said. “Overall it has been great; it’s nice working with these kids. They have shown a lot of development this year so far and hopefully we continue that.”
Greenway is 5-3-2 for the season and has won a lot of close games so far which pleases Sertich. He said it has been an exciting season with the Raiders going to overtime in four of their first 10 games.
“We have played well late in games so of those four overtime games we have two ties and two wins. A couple of our losses we would like back but overall we have played pretty good so far.”
Sertich said he is not real concerned about the Raiders’ record; he said he is looking at how his team plays the game of hockey.
“If we play the game the right way, do the things we are supposed to do and work hard, if we lose then we lost,” Sertich explained. “What I get upset at is when we play an opponent and we don’t play to our potential. That’s what fires me up.
“We are looking for kids to do things the right way, compete and buy into our program. If we do that we are going to have success; if we don’t, we are not. That’s the message I am sending to them.”
Sertich said the program overall has some good numbers. He said the Bantam team is a little low in numbers but he added that the Peewee and Squirt numbers are good. In the Mites Division, numbers have exploded as in the Mini Mites Division with about 30 players in each division.
Thus far this season, Raider goaltender Nathan Jurgansen has played well in keeping his team in games. Sertich said the goalie has been Greenway’s best player the whole season.
“He has kept us in some games that we shouldn’t have been in and he kept some of these wins afloat when we are reeling.”
He added that other players who have stood out so far include Ty Donahue, Darric Davidson, Aidin Rajala, Ezra Carlson, and Bodie Jorgenson.
The obvious goal for the Raiders is to reach the state tournament once again, but Hermantown, the state’s top-ranked Class A team, stands in the way.
“Hermantown is the top team with Duluth Denfeld separating as the No. 2 team right now,” Sertich said. “For us to be a factor, we need consistency. If we can come out and play a consistent game – and we haven’t got there yet – and play 51 solid minutes, we will be sitting pretty good at the end of the year.”
Adam Johnson is back as the varsity assistant coach while Steve Arbour is the junior varsity coach.