With the Bruins announcing their Development Camp roster, we’re taking a look at some of the prospects who will be attending this year’s practices. Today we focus on our first goalie, and North Dakota’s Zane Gothberg.
The ability to get timely goaltending is paramount to any team’s success. To get the key save in the big moment, and to be able to survive and make it to the next juncture of the game can be all the difference.
Zane Gothberg was that netminder for just about every second of North Dakota’s season, coming up with stops in the important moments. Then, out of character, he suddenly wasn’t, although some may say you have to lose to learn how to ultimately win.
After playing a backup role in his freshman season, Gothberg returned to the net for UND this year as the team’s number one. He thrived in that role, going 20-10-3 along with a .926 save percentage. He finished in the top five in goals against average in the country, and brought his team within a goal, or really a moment, from the national title game.
That’s when Gothberg finally cracked, and North Dakota’s season came to an end.
In a Frozen Four matchup with arch rival Minnesota, a game in which goals were quite rare, it took the Gophers nearly 51 minutes to score the game’s first, before North Dakota equalized on 32 seconds later.
With the team’s deadlocked at one in the closing moments, it appeared the game would go to overtime with the score likewise. But Minnesota beat the buzzer on a shorthanded bid, scoring a soft goal past Gothberg, and ending UND’s season.
A stunned Gothberg sat atop his crease, inconsolable after the buzzer sounded. It was a harrowing end to the Minnesota native’s season, but a campaign nonetheless filled with growth and improvement.
When Gothberg arrived as a freshman, he immediately got in disciplinary trouble due to a drinking incident. While some thought he may be the new starting goalie, he started just 17 of North Dakota’s 44 games. But most of those appearances came late in the season, including two playoff starts. It was clear Gothberg was positioning himself to see the ice more.
His sophomore season was quite different. With UND’s incumbent starter Clarke Saunders now playing the role of backup, Gothberg ran away with the starting role, using his blend of lateral speed and grounded positioning to make life difficult for shooters.
And for the most part, he picked those key moments to put in his best work. He stopped 44 of 45 shots in a double overtime, regional final victory over Ferris State to send North Dakota to the Frozen Four. With his team on the ropes, Gothberg made 14 saves in the first overtime period keeping North Dakota afloat, before UND scored early in the next extra session to advance in the tournament.
In spite of the disappointing ending, it was truly a huge season for Gothberg’s development. With the likes of Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg, and Malcolm Subban, Gothberg isn’t a household name in the Bruins’ goaltending discussion. That also means less immediate pressure on him to turn pro, and more time to hone his craft.
He’s always had plenty of raw talent, and he understands how to play the goalie position very well when it comes to reading angles and plays. While Gothberg is certainly capable of making the dramatic save, it’s more impressive that he rarely puts himself in that spot by staying square to shooters, and in the right place to stop the puck.