McIntyre garners high goalie honor

Growing up about an hour east of Grand Forks, a young Zane McIntyre dreamt of one day playing for the team he grew up watching, in a place he often attended hockey camps during the summer.

The Thief River Falls native grew familiar with the short drive that eventually became his home.

Now a junior at UND, McIntyre spent the 2014-15 season with a team once again determined to surpass its mark from last year. McIntyre, too, became a dominant force in his post, setting a school record for career goals against average and save percentage.

His performance garnered him a spot in the Hobey Hat Trick, and he also was awarded the Mike Richter Award last Friday at Matthews Arena in Boston.

Yet after suffering a season-ending loss to Boston University last Thursday in the Frozen Four semifinals, McIntyre spent the next day accepting the honor as college hockey’s best goaltender.

McIntyre spent long weekends traveling to hockey camps as a kid; often making the roadtrips with his late grandmother Susan McIntyre, who encouraged his childhood dreams that would soon become a reality.

“It’s those little dreams and stuff you get to go through at a young age,” McIntyre said. “Thinking about, ‘Hey, maybe one day that would be cool to experience playing for North Dakota.’ And for this to actually be happening has been an absolute blessing, and reality was tough to see at the time. But just set your goals, and anything is possible really. It’s pretty special.”

Later that day, after accepting the award from Mike Richter himself, McIntyre sat on a stage at Matthews Arena in Boston with Jack Eichel and Jimmy Vesey as the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

Though Eichel’s name was announced as the winner, McIntyre was the first to stand up and hug his competitor to his left.

Winning the Mike Richter Award was high praise for McIntyre.

The honor is based on academics, community, service, sportsmanship and on-ice performance, something McIntyre will be the first to say winning would not be possible without his supporters.

“Obviously, I didn’t get here all on my own,” McIntyre said. “There’s been tons of people in my life that have helped me get to his point … Without them, it would just be a dream, but now dreams become reality … I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

McIntyre said he is grateful for his teammates and his family, and for the help of coaches — especially volunteer assistant coach Karl Goehring for the past three seasons.

The two interacted at hockey camps many years ago, and McIntyre knew Goehring was someone he wanted to model his game after.

“To really get here and experience it first-hand with his outlook from playing at the collegiate level to playing professional hockey, he’s certainly learned many techniques, but also maybe more so the mental side of what it takes to become an elite goaltender,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre would watch video every Monday and Tuesday with Goehring, always striving toward improvement — his teachable attitude was present from the start.

How Geohring was able to succeed as a former UND goaltender intrigued McIntyre.

“Whether it’s that or doing the goalie skates before practices, or just maybe sitting down and having a talk just about life, basically, about his accomplishments and what he saw going through his career,” McIntyre said. “It’s been a really special relationship where, I don’t think without that, I would be anything close to where I’m at now.”

Here he is now — The Mike Richter Award winner, NCHC goalie of the year, most valuable player of the West Regional, second-team All-American and first-team all-conference player.

Richter said McIntyre’s accomplishments expand beyond the ice.

“I think what separates the truly great players, the exceptional players like Zane, is what’s between their ears, and it’s tough to get a sense for that until you start knowing the person,” Richter said. “He’s got an incredible amount of poise. These are not easy games, I love the way he competes, he’s square to the puck, all the right things that you can see physically … But I think it’s really what you find in him as a person, and what we’re trying to focus on with this award a little bit more, I think that is what’s going to pave his way to success.”

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