The past couple of weeks have been good to University of North Dakota goaltender and former Bruins’ sixth-round draft pick, Zane Gothberg. The freshman out of Thief Rivers Fall, Minnesota, has made four straight starts in net, posting a 3-0-1 record during that span.
Overall this season, Gothberg has played in 11 games and has a 6-3-2 record, with a 2.42 GAA, and a .918 save percentage. The 20-year-old has been adjusting well, especially off the ice, to his first year in college hockey, after two seasons with the Fargo Force of the USHL.
“It’s been kind of a roller coaster of emotions,” said Gotberg of his freshman campaign. “At first, you get enrolled in the classes, you get adjusted with your class schedule and how you go about daily living. From there, you have to balance your hockey with that, too.
“It’s been quite the balancing act, but it’s come along pretty decent here. It’s [about] becoming just a good hockey player, but an overall good per-son and having values that really mold you into the person you want to become.”
On the ice, Gothberg says he is still trying to adjust to the college game and make improvements each and every day.
“It’s been okay,” Gothberg said of his play to this point. “There’s been some good times and there’s been some bad. From there, it’s just a building block every day. I think the biggest thing I’m trying to focus on this year is, every day, getting better because we’re not fortunate enough to be playing 60 or 80 games in a season like maybe other leagues are.
“The biggest thing is taking those work days, as Coach [Dave] Hakstol describes them, and making the most of them and getting better every single day. I think I’ve done a good job with that, it’s always a work in progress and [I] can always continue to strive.”
Specifically, Gothberg talked about the “three building blocks” to his game. Tracking the puck, positioning, and communication are at the top of the goalie’s checklist.
“I think the biggest thing is – sitting down with [goaltending coach] Karl [Goehring] – what are the techniques and what are some of the mental techniques that I used for my game to really – when I do play at a high level, when I do play my game – make me successful.
“Number one is tracking the puck, tracking the puck into the glove and into the pads. Number two was position, making sure you’re on the angle, making sure I know the situations; maybe there’s a guy back door, maybe there’s a tip or deflection.
“And then, lastly, communication. I like to be pretty loud back there, try and help out my team, as much as possible, break it out. Those are probably the three building blocks to my game and, from there, if I can utilize that, I feel like we could be pretty successful.”
It is apparent that Gothberg has earned the trust of his coaches of late, as shown by his recent string of starts. When asked what has him clicking, Gothberg gave credit to his teammates and his coaches, especially Goehring.
“I think it’s been the whole team concept,” Gothberg explained. “We’ve definitely tightened up a lot of things structurally. Hockey’s a team game, so I definitely have to tip my cap to the players in front of me and, also the coaching staff, too.
“Karl Goehring has done a great job working with myself, and [fellow goaltenders] Clark [Saunders] and Tate Maris. We’ll get out every single day, about 10 or 15 minutes early, and do some goalie sessions with game situations stuff, with certain drills, hand-eye drills. Karl’s definitely been big influence in my year, so far. It’s definitely helped out a significant amount.”
Gothberg had the opportunity to attend the last couple of Bruins’ developmental camps and says he gained a plethora of knowledge and experience, particularly about how the organization operates. It also served as a motivational tool, something that allows him to see what it will take to make it to the NHL some day.
“There’s a lot of things I took back,” said Gothberg of his experience at camp. “Obviously, just being around the brass of the organization, you get to really know those people really well and how everything is run in the organization.
“Boston is an Original Six team; they do have a reputation of being one of the more dominant teams in the league year-in and year-out. [Fitting into the organization is] something that’s expected of the players coming in and upon the coaching staff there. It’s something that, taking away from the development camps, I don’t really look at it as a threat or as something that I’m scared of.
“I think it’s more of a motivational factor that, hey, one day I do want to play there, this is surreal, this is awesome, this would be tremendous to do. You get a taste of what the future could be like, I think it’s more of a motivation factor to one day get there.”
For now, though, Gothberg is focused on trying to help North Dakota to their eighth national championship.
“I think the biggest one is just focusing on my team now, just doing whatever I can to help us out,” said Gothberg, when asked what his goals are for the rest of the season. “And to help our team win the eighth national championship here at UND.
“That’s, by far, the number one [goal]. We’ve been making steps and we’ve been making strides in the process to eventually get there.”
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