Sometimes to know more about the man behind the mask, one just has to look at the mask itself.
Force goaltender Zane Gothberg is no different. At first glance, his mask has a blue base with silver flames down each side and on the crown of the mask is the Force’s logo. Written on the chin in silver is “Insano”, which is one of Gothberg’s nicknames.
But take a look at what’s behind the mask and one will learn about what’s driving the North Dakota commit and Boston Bruins draft pick this season.
“It’s my grandma,” Gothberg said about the back of his mask. “And that’s her Diet Coke in one hand and her cigarette in the other. The nurses always said she had to have those two things in the hospital.”
Gothberg’s grandmother, Sue McIntyre, died over the summer following a five-month bout with bronchitis and pneumonia. An obituary in Gothberg’s hometown newspaper, the Thief River Falls Times, said she suffered from multiple ailments such as blood clots and kidney issues.
She was 70 years old.
McIntyre was hospitalized in January and Gothberg said there were many times where his mind was in her hospital room even if his body was in Fargo.
He visited her plenty of times in the hospital but it wasn’t like old times.
“When I was a kid she’d take me to games and practices all the time,” Gothberg said. “We’d just get in her car, and we’d go.”
Gothberg said his grandmother, who was practically at every one of his high school games, was so influential, he wanted to do something special for her this season.
So he got together with a friend, who designs goalie masks and drew a cartoon of McIntyre. The image features her puffy hair, glasses, a Diet Coke in one hand with the other hand on her hip and while she’s smoking her cigarette, she’s wearing a shirt that reads,”FORCE” in white letters.
Gothberg said having his grandmother’s image means she’ll always have his back.
Yet underneath the image of McIntyre is a smiling bee with wings. That image is to honor another friend, Mitch Highman, the team’s photographer who is known for his calling card, a smiling bee.
“Mitch and his wife over the summer had a kid,” Gothberg said. “He’s been such a good friend to me. I put the bee on the mask because of his little one. I see it as honoring the passing of one person and celebrating the life of another. In a way, its the circle of life.”