Malcolm Subban gets a lot of the attention as the top Bruins goalie prospect, and rightfully so. But Gothberg is hardly undervalued by the Bruins organization.
“I don’t think internally that Zane is flying under the radar,” Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney said. “We know that Zane is very good, and that he has grown a lot. [It’s exciting] because when we [drafted him] we hoped that he would continue [his growth].”
Gothberg has done nothing but improve his game since being selected 165th overall in 2010. Before joining UND this past season, Gothberg put together two strong seasons in the USHL. During his first year with the Fargo Force, he posted a 14-8 record, two shutouts, a 2.23 goals-against-average, and a .908 save percentage. In year two, Gothberg was even better, as he went 26-16-4, with seven shutouts, a 2.22 goals-against, and a .921 save percentage.
“It’s been a little bit of a process [since] being drafted,” Gothberg said. “The [Bruins] said that it wasn’t going to [happen] over a year, but rather over a couple years. I am just taking it step by step, and with goaltenders in general it kind of takes a little bit longer. I have gained a lot of knowledge from leaving high school to juniors. I grew a little bit, put on some weight.”
The Thief River Falls, MN native, is coming off an impressive freshman season at UND as Gothberg led the team formerly known as “The Fighting Sioux” to a first round victory in the NCAA Tournament against a tough Niagara squad. Gothberg stopped 28-of-29 stops in UND’s 2-1 victory over the Purple Eagles.
“I had a few good buddies on Niagara too, so it was a really good time,” Gothberg said. “Playing in the NCAA Tournament, feeling that pressure of the do-or-die situation was great. I just buckled down, tried to make saves, and be a steady rock for my team.”
Unfortunately that is where Gothberg’s season ended as a foot infection kept him out of UND’s second round game against the eventual national champion, Yale. The Bulldogs had little trouble with UND without Gothberg in goal, winning 4-1.
Although the season didn’t end the way Gothberg would have liked, the freshman goalie still grew a lot and had an impressive season. He finished the season with a 9-4-3 record, a 2.46 goals-against, and a .920 save percentage. There is plenty of room for growth in the young goaltender's sophomore season.
“As to his style, athleticism, and such, I think he is poised to have a really good year and take [UND] to the next level,” Sweeney said. “He’s eager to take that net, and he had a chance to until he got sick in the playoffs last year.”
Gothberg has also had the chance to compete at the international level for Team USA. He competed twice in the World Junior A Challenge, winning gold in 2010 and bronze in 2011.
“The group of guys we put together for our gold medal run was pretty incredible,” Gothberg said. “It was a lot of fun, and it’s really cool to put on the USA jersey. There is obviously a lot of heritage for the United States, and it is an awesome experience to go out there and compete on the national level.”
At 6'2”, Gothberg is a reasonably good-sized goalie, so being able to move post-to-post as fast as possible is very important. His speed in net is something that he has locked down.
“I would like to say my speed and footwork are my best assets,” Gothberg said. “For a big guy I can move pretty quickly.”
Although Gothberg is nailing down many of the physical requirements on his path to becoming a professional goalie, one of the biggest roadblocks to success for goaltenders is in their head.
“The biggest challenge I have had so far has been mentally,” he said. “I think if you ask any goaltender they would probably say the same thing or another relative answer. It is just such a battle that you play mind games against yourself to be competitive, but at the same time you want to stay focused.”
Gothberg is still years away as he continues to develop his game at the collegiate level, but he adds to an already impressive group of goalies in the Bruins organization.
Follow Richard Murray on Twitter via @Richie_Murray