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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published October 31 2012

UND goalies using helmets to express themselves

GRAND FORKS – Zane Gothberg sees daily reminders of why he’s in his current spot.

They are painted on the University of North Dakota goaltender’s helmet.

On the left side, there’s a picture of Ralph Engelstad, UND’s first player from Thief River Falls, Minn., and the benefactor that funded the team’s current $104 million arena as well as a $15 million arena for his hometown.

“I’m very appreciative of what he’s done, not only for hockey, but for everything in the Thief River Falls community,” said Gothberg, a TRF native. “It’s pretty special to be the first goalie from Thief since him (at UND).

“He paved the way for hockey development in the community. If not for him, I wouldn’t have had a place to skate like that.”

On the back of Gothberg’s helmet is a picture of his late grandmother, Susan McIntyre. She graduated from UND and ran the school’s occupational therapy department for 38 years.

Grandma Susie, as she’s known, passed away in July 2011. She helped turn Gothberg into a UND hockey fan at a young age.

“She had season tickets and would always take us to games,” he said. “I absolutely loved hockey and I loved Sioux hockey. I started at an early age. I would go to the games and play mini hockey in the aisles.”

The image on the helmet has her wearing a UND sweatshirt and holding a Diet Coke can.

“She was pretty influential on my life,” Gothberg said. “I thought it would be a neat tribute to her. It’s an analogy as well – she’s got my back.”

Junior transfer goalie Clarke Saunders also used the artwork on his helmet to make a tribute.

He has the initials “NJS” on his helmet for his late aunt, Nancy Saunders, who passed away last year.

“She was my biggest fan,” he said. “I think my family really appreciated that I did that.”

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald