UND’s Gothberg returns to full form after injury
GRAND FORKS — An injury sidelined Zane Gothberg for a month during the best stretch of his career.
Gothberg was able to quiet any questions about whether he would be able to return to form after UND’s 9-2 win on Saturday night against Miami.
Gothberg didn’t have to deal with a lot of work and was able to relax with his team building a huge lead, but he also looked sharp when he needed to be.
“I thought his performance was good,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “He had some real good saves when the game was 0-0. He had a couple of critical saves.
“I thought some of the smaller areas of a goaltender’s game weren’t quite that sharp. Some of his communication and some of his interaction with his defensemen and moving the puck to his defensemen weren’t as sharp as you’d like to see it. But that’s probably something you’d expect coming off of a month-long layoff.”
The Thief River Falls product is in the midst of his best — and most consistent — stretch of his career.
In his last 10 starts, he’s 9-0-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. He hasn’t lost a start since Nov. 9 at Nebraska Omaha.
In Gothberg’s first nine games of the year, he was 2-5-2 with a 2.84 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
Gothberg said he wasn’t worried about the injury throwing him off.
“For the most part, I was confident with the things I was doing during the week,” he said. “I was confident with the things I was doing with Karl (Goehring, goalie coach) and the things we did with Pooly (Mark Poolman) and his training staff. I just went out there and played hockey and had fun. It was great.”
Gothberg appears to be UND’s No. 1 goaltender.
He started nine straight games from Nov. 30 to Jan. 18 and only went out of the lineup with he sustained a lower-body injury in practice.
Senior Clarke Saunders stepped in while Gothberg was injured and won three Friday games and lost two Saturday games. Gothberg stepped back into the lineup to finish off the sweep of Miami.
“Some of the little parts of your game, you have to work back to at game speed,” Hakstol said. “I think Zane did everything he could away from the game while he was rehabbing to come back from the injury as he was practicing to come back into the lineup. Ultimately, there are certain things you have to bring back to game level by playing in a game.”
“It’s a lot different with practice situations and game situations,” he said. “Obviously, there are certain ways you can prepare for it, but there’s nothing like it until you get out there.
“It felt great. I didn’t go on the trip to Denver. That felt a little different. It was good to be back with the team. It was fun.”
Gothberg didn’t start either game against Minnesota-Duluth earlier this when the Bulldogs came to Grand Forks, but he has some familiarity with the Bulldogs. He played with Duluth’s Austin Farley, Alex Iafallo, Willie Corrin and Dominic Toninato in juniors with the Fargo Force.
“We know they are an offensive team,” Gothberg said. “They have a lot of skill and a lot of grit as well.
“It’s playoff hockey now. It has been that way for the past couple of months with the way the standings are and everything. We just have to take that mentality with us the next couple of weekends.”