UND goaltender leads by example

North Dakota junior Zane McIntyre becomes veteran player within unit between the pipes

Zane McIntyre plays in his post between the pipes for the UND men’s hockey team. File Photo/The Dakota Student.

Two years ago, Zane McIntyre entered the doors of Ralph Engelstad Arena and joined a veteran goaltending unit that would challenge and shape him to fit the role he’s taking on this season.

As he begins his junior year, McIntyre bands together with sophomore Matt Hrynkiw and freshman Cam Johnson as the core defensive team in the net for the UND men’s hockey team.

“It’s been a learning curve every single day, every year,” McIntyre said. “I know coming in my freshman year, it was a big question mark on my game and how I was going to do. But now that I’ve settled in, I’ve learned what I’m good at and need to improve.”

The Thief River Falls, Minn., native collected a favorable record during his first year, and what he learned from former teammate Clarke Saunders had a distinct impression on the style of player he wanted to be.

“His movements — as a goalie you kind of zone in on the other guys and check out their style and what they do — and I thought, ‘Wow, this guys is quick, he can move fast,’” McIntyre said “Just the little things like that, and just being a great person, too. I think everybody on the team would speak very highly of Clarke, just the type of person he is and the man he is, too.”

The duo shared time between the pipes — McIntyre following of many Saunders’ examples, and eventually having an opportunity to display that level of competence for himself.

As the most veteran goaltender between the three this year, UND coach Dave Hakstol anticipates McIntyre to step into a similar role as Saunders.

“I think he’ll do it much differently than Clarke,” Hakstol said. “He’s a totally different personality than Clarke, but he’ll do it his own way. That group of goaltenders is a team within a team, that group of three have to support each other, push each other and help each other be successful. Zane is the leader of that group this year.”

He’s leading the last line of defense for a team that’s hungry to redeem what it left behind in Philadelphia last season. And he’s leading it the way he knows how.

“I think as a person, you’ve just got to come to the rink and do the same routine and kind of lead by example,” McIntyre said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We do have cheerleader guys on the team that will definitely motivate guys to get going, but I think as myself personally, I stick to my routine and lead by example and do the little things correct.”

Family influences

McIntyre recently made the decision to formally change his surname from Gothberg to honor his family name with the upcoming wedding of his sister and his mother getting re-married.

The process has been ongoing for over a year, but the intricate details of changing everything from licenses to mailing addresses before the start of a new season has been a less stressful decision for McIntyre.

It’s a choice he made with humility.

“They’ve been there my entire life and the reason I’ve gotten to this point,” McIntyre said. “It’s just kind of a respect things and a way to honor them in a way.”

He has a new name, but the personality behind the mask hasn’t changed.

“I think he’s being true to himself,” Hakstol said. “He’s not forcing anything. He’s not trying to do something out of the box. Everything he’s doing is within his comfort zone. It’s well-thought out, its well-planned out. And it’s well-executed.”

Finding redemption

After falling short of its ultimate goal last season in the NCAA Frozen Four, McIntyre shares the same attitude of many of his teammates.

“We’re starving to get out there,” he said. “It’s go time for us as a team … We’ve got to focus on our start and kind of day by day progress of making steps each day toward the national championship.”

North Dakota has garnered some of the top rankings in recent polls after collecting a 25-14-3 record last season and advancing to its twelfth straight NCAA tournament. Despite a close call in advancing to the national stage, the team knows the level of effort it needs to put forth to find a solid finish.

The team opens play this weekend in an exhibition game Sunday at Ralph Engelstad Arena against the Manitoba Bisons, looking for strength from one of its veterans.

McIntyre’s leadership within the goaltending unit may be evident, but he says what’s in front of him is what drives the achievements of this team.

“It’s hard not to be successful when you have those guys in front of you,” he said.

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