A native of Coleraine, Minnesota, Gernander was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1987 while Gernander was still in high school. After completing his degree at the University of Minnesota in 1991 he spent his first three seasons with the Jets\ AHL club in Moncton, helping the Hawks reach the Calder Cup Finals in 1994.
He signed on with the New York Rangers organization in 1994, and quickly became the heart and soul of the New York Rangers farm team - the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale - for 11 seasons as a player and later as a long tenured coach. The two time winner of the Fred Hunt award for AHL sportsmanship, he served 10 consecutive years as the farm team's captain, including in 2000 when he led the Wolf Pack to the Calder Cup championship.
It is unusual in the modern era for a minor league player to spend such a long time with one farm team. It enabled Gernander to have an AHL Hall of Fame career, inducted in 2013.
Gernander retired as the top-scoring American-born player in AHL history, with totals of 293-331-624 in 973 games. He also suited up for a then league-record 123 postseason contests.