McIntyre to ‘put best foot forward' in backup goalie battle


WILMINGTON, MA – With his participation in a sixth Bruins development camp this week, goaltender Zane McIntyre has now participated in more prospect camps than any other player in the history of the B’s organization. It’s not something that the 23-year-old is shying away from by any means, but the number of camps attended also plainly spells out that it’s McIntyre’s time to finally graduate into a player, rather than a prospect, for the Black and Gold.

“Deep down I knew I wanted to be a Bruin,” said McIntyre. “There is something with this organization that I can’t quite put my finger on, but there is a lot of similarities [with me] growing up where it’s a hard-nosed mentality where you earn everything that you get. I don’t know if it’s the city or the culture of the organization, but it’s something I feel really comfortable with in my position.”

With that in mind, McIntyre left the University of North Dakota to sign a two-year deal with the Bruins and actually goes into this season’s training camp as a viable candidate for the NHL backup job behind Tuukka Rask. The lack of NHL experience will be a knock against the 6-foot-2, 207-pounder winning the backup job directly out of camp, but he’s also going head-to-head against other inexperienced goalies in Malcolm Subban and Jeremy Smith.

Between the three of them they have exactly one NHL appearance, a forgettable NHL debut for Subban vs. the St. Louis Blues last season.

McIntyre said he’s ready for the challenge after leaving UND as the all-time leader in victories (58), goals against average (2.08) and save percentage (.927) before finishing his career as a Hobey Baker finalist.

“It feels good to take that next step and begin my pro career,” said McIntyre, who was a sixth round pick for Boston way back in the 2010 NHL Draft. “As a hockey player you are super competitive in any position, and you’re going to try to do your best to be the best. I’m going to put my best foot forward in every situation I can to maybe get that [NHL] spot that’s ahead of me.

“Obviously there’s no pro experience for me, but your play is going to dictate what happens. I’ll probably learn that sooner or later in pro hockey. If you play and play well, then you’re going to keep on playing. If you don’t then you’ll find the [bench] for a bit. So I’ll just control what I can control, and that’s putting my best foot forward whether that’s with the big club, or whether it’s in the AHL.”

The college hockey experiences in North Dakota have certainly matured McIntyre as a player, and that was on display as he got onto the ice early on Tuesday’s first camp practice to work with Colton Hargrove and Frank Vatrano. Other younger players are looking to guys like McIntyre for leadership in this camp, and that’s fine with him, and of course for the Bruins as he looks to make a big impact in his first training camp experience with a job on the line.

With so many B’s prospects at least two or three years away from contributing at the NHL level, McIntyre is probably the closest thing to an NHL player participating in this year’s development camp after 18-year-old David Pastrnak set the world on fire last July.

“[McIntyre] is really relaxed, and some of the younger kids are a little more nervous. He’s ready to make the next step, and you can tell he’s really excited,” said Bruins development coach Jay Pandolfo. “I’m sure they’re going to give him a good look in training camp. I’m sure he’ll be in rookie camp, and they’ll get a quicker look at him before the other guys get there.

“I’m sure he’ll get a good opportunity. I’m not sure where they’ll go because those are some of the decisions that Claude [Julien] and Don [Sweeney] will make.”

The camp competition is a long way out for McIntyre, Subban or Smith, and they’ll each want to avoid the pitfalls that tripped up young Swedish netminder Niklas Svedberg as a young backup to Rask last season. Svedberg couldn’t handle the sporadic playing time that goes along with serving as Rask’s backup, and the Bruins lost confidence in the Swedish goaltender in the second half of the season.

That’s something the Bruins will want to avoid with one of their prized prospects in the former UND goaltender, but McIntyre’s impressive track record and skills might be enough for him as the dark horse candidate to break camp in October with the Black and Gold when it’s all said and done.

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