WILMINGTON — In case you’re having trouble spotting Bruins goaltending prospect Zane Gothberg at Ristuccia Arena, it shouldn’t be hard. While Michael Hutchinson rocks a Bruins-themed mask, and Lars Volden looks like a souvenir from the Rolling Rock brewery’s gift shop, the colorful Gothberg wears a mask that that is uncharacteristically plain. Blank white, no design.
“This year, our team [the USHL's Fargo Force], we don’t fund really for custom goalie helmets,” Gothberg explained at the Bruins’ development camp. “I didn’t know if it would be a one or two-year span where I’d be playing for my team that I’m with now.
Now, he does know where he’ll be playing, and that means another year in the USHL. Recruited to play at the University of North Dakota, Gothberg, who graduated high school a year ago, needed to wait and see what UND’s goalie situation would be before he knew which year he would head to college. With starter Brad Eidsness headed back for his senior year rather than turning pro, Gothberg will wait until the fall of 2012 before finally playing college hockey.
“Both Brad Eidsness and [junior] Aaron Dell are superb goalie. Eisness is sticking around for his senior year, and Dell will be around for his junior year, so it is what it is, and you’ve just got to make the best out of the situation,” the 18-year-old said.
While waiting extra long for college may be tough, Gothberg doesn’t seem to have any complaints, but for the happy-go-lucky netminder, it complaining wouldn’t appear to be his bag.
He was the backup for the Force last year, with Colorado native Ryan Massa getting the majority of the starts between the pipes. Gothberg played 23 games, posting a 2.23 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. Next year, Massa will be gone, and it will be Gothberg’s show.
“It’s a little bit of a different plan,” Gothberg said of going back to the USHL, “but at the same time, I think it would be good for me to see a lot of rubber this upcoming year and be able to carry that momentum into the college level.”
It also gives Gothberg another year of experience after a debut season in the USHL in which he admitted there were adjustments. While he’s now made the leap from high school to a new league, he had to learn how to adjust along the way.
“It was a bit of a change,” Gothberg said. “Just the schedule away from the rink, there was a lot of down time for me, just because I had graduated high school. I had to make the most of my time, whether it was doing yoga or just working out and stuff, just being around the guys and stuff or just hanging out at the rink all day. It was a different change of pace, and on the ice too, it took me a couple of games, I’d say after my fifth start, to get kind of a groove and be able to play at that level consistently and on a daily basis.”
Gothberg is in his second development camp with the Bruins, as he attended last year’s as a sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft. Given that he has yet to even attend college, he figures to be at quite a few more. Being Bruins property for a long time shouldn’t be tough on Gothberg, as the organization gives him plenty of netminders to look up to. Like everyone else, he watched Tim Thomas‘ Vezina/Stanley Cup/Conn Smythe Trophy in amazement.
“Obviously everyone knows about Timmy,” Gothberg said. “It was pretty ridiculous. He’s a great, great goaltender. It’s such a weird style that he plays, but at the same time, he is fundamentally sound. He does battle his butt off, and he does make a lot of great saves. That’s what it comes down to, is just stopping the puck. It doesn’t matter how you do it.”
While Gothberg’s mask could be considered dull, his personality, as documented last year, is anything but. When he isn’t providing one-liners for Jared Knight to post on his twitter account, he’s freely admitting to his musical guilty pleasures. Gothberg said last year that he has listened to Miley Cyrus to get pumped up for games, but these days, his tune selection is more Bruins themed.
Gothberg said his playlists have been heavy on Wiz Khalifa, the man responsible for “Black and Yellow,” the Bruins’ warmup song.
The 18-year old said that the original version of the song was “pretty impressive,” but that Brad Marchand’s attempt at spitting a few measures of it prior to the B’s championship parade was “awesome.”