UND’s Gothberg sustains injury

Starting goaltender out indefinitely, team ready for Saunders between the pipes.

Michael Parks skates last weekend against Bemidji State. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

After starting every game since UND began it’s nine-game unbeaten streak back in November, sophomore goaltender Zane Gothberg is out indefinitely after sustaining a lower-body injury during practice Tuesday.

Senior Clarke Saunders is ready to take his place between the pipes, and the team is confident in his abilities.

“I think we feel great about it,” junior forward Mark MacMillan said. “Clarke’s a great goalie. He has been since the day he got here, and his practices lately have been some of the best of his career since he’s been here.”

Saunders has appeared in seven games overall this season and boasts a .900 overall save percentage. Despite his 3.60 goals against average, Saunders has shown improved performance in practice in recent weeks and is expected to jump back in quickly.

“He’s going to have to get back into game speed real quick,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “Clarke went through some real ups and downs just before Christmas in his performance in practice, and I think the bright side of that is he’s practiced extremely well over the last couple weeks.

“He’s back, he’s settled, he’s competing and he’s been very good in practice. Now he’s just got to transition that into game action, and our guys have got to work hard in front of him and give him the opportunity to do that, and vice-versa. He’s got to work hard in front of him and give him the opportunity to do that, and vice-versa. He’s got to work hard for the guys that are playing in front of him. And I think that’ll happen.”

Though he’s closing in on almost two months without playing a game, Saunders appeared in 26 games last season — nine more than Gothberg.

“It’s not really something we’re going to think about,” junior defenseman Nick Mattson said. “We have all the confidence in the world with him.”

‘That’s not a surprise’

In accordance with its unbeaten streak, North Dakota also has seen contributions from all over the lineup.

Until last Saturday, Andrew Panzerella couldn’t remember the last time he scored a goal.

As it turns out, the junior defenseman’s last shot that found the back of the net was one he scored back in 2010 for Waterloo in the USHL.

Other names that appeared on the score sheet in UND’s 4-2 victory over Bemidji State were Connor Gaarder, Derek Rodwell and Michael Parks — names not necessarily familiar to the score sheet until recently.

“Sounds about right,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the way it’s been through the year. Obviously, we’ve got some guys that score a little bit more than others — but any time we’ve had good nights, we’ve always had guys chipping in from different areas.

“That’s not a surprise. That’s not something that’s off the charts. That’s become the calling card of this team.”

North Dakota also is celebrating its second-half unbeaten streak with nine straight games without a loss (8-0-1) since the Pattyn-Gaarder-Rodwell line was united on Nov. 30.

Rodwell, who remained out of the lineup for the majority of the first half of the season, used that time to focus on improvements.

“It just gave me an opportunity to look at my game and work on the things I needed to work on,” Rodwell said. “Do what I needed to do to get back in the lineup and do well.”

Aiming to attack

Rodwell and the rest of the team are preparing for a weekend matchup at Denver this weekend — a series that yielded a controversial ticket policy earlier this season.

Denver required fans who wanted to attend the series to buy tickets to two other Pioneer games, or purchase tickets in blocks of twenty or more. Fans had the option of buying them from the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, but they sold out quickly.

The news broke hard with UND fans as the series is known for drawing large amounts of green and white to the stands.

“We’ve got a great alumni following out there,” Hakstol said. “It’s a real central location for a lot of our alums, and we’ll go out there and we’re going to try and play hard in front of those people.”

But North Dakota fans won’t give up easy.

“It’ll take a lot more than that to keep them out,” Mattson said. “I’m sure they’ll make a strong showing, I’m hoping.”

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].