Hockey goaltenders bring various qualities to the net. Some have catlike reflexes and quickness. Others sport amazing hand-eye coordination.
Steelheads goaltender Branden Komm has these athletic attributes, but perhaps his most important quality is this: patience.
Komm, a product of Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., is in his third year as a professional and he’s still searching for more playing time. Last season, he played in eight games with South Carolina of the ECHL before being acquired by Idaho in January. He played nine games the rest of season but picked up an important fan in Idaho coach Neil Graham.
“His work ethic is next to none,” Graham said. “You couldn’t ask for a better guy and a better teammate. ... He’s a guy I chose to bring back from last year’s roster, and obviously, I have faith and confidence in him.”
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Komm, an unaffiliated player with an ECHL contract, entered training camp competing for playing time with two goalies in the Dallas Stars system: Landon Bow and Henri Kiviaho.
“It’s always kind of been the same story, where I kind of have to wait for opportunities to come,” Komm said.
The opportunities came after Bow was called up to Texas of the American Hockey League and Kiviaho was injured.
Komm has played in nine of the past 12 games and has risen into the top 10 in the ECHL in save percentage (.916) and goals-against average (2.54). He has won four of his past five starts.
“Sometimes, when you’re on an ECHL contract, you have to wait your turn,” Graham said. “It doesn’t always seem fair to see a guy who shows up and does the work and doesn’t say a word. But he’s thinking, ‘When I get my chance, I’m going to play my hardest.’ He’s had more opportunities of late, and he has taken advantage of that.”
Komm is pleased that he’s been in net more often on game nights.
“I’ve had to be patient, but I’ve remained confident in my abilities,” said Komm, who has also played for Evansville and Cincinnati of the ECHL. “I knew my opportunities would come, but I also knew that when they did come, I had to take full advantage of them.”
Komm said his relationship with Graham has made the waiting easier.
“(Graham) has been very transparent with me,” Komm said. “On some other teams, they weren’t really letting me know what was going on, and that makes it tougher.”
Komm admits the ups and downs of his professional career have made him a better goaltender.
“I’ve always prided myself on my work ethic, and when you mature mentally and physically things start clicking,” he said. “I think I’m at that point in my career.”
Steelheads home for six games
▪ Who: Alaska (18-7-5) at Idaho (18-11-3)
▪ When: 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
▪ Where: CenturyLink Arena, Downtown Boise
▪ Radio/TV: KTIK 1350 AM or 93.1 FM/Cable One channel 72
▪ Next week: Three home games against Colorado on Jan. 11, 13-14
▪ Tickets: Available at the CenturyLink box office, by calling 331-8497 or visiting IdahoSteelheads.com
▪ All-Star game: Steelheads defenseman Travis Walsh was named to the ECHL All-Star Roster on Tuesday and will represent Idaho in the All-Star festivities Jan. 18 in Glens Falls, N.Y. Walsh, a rookie out of Michigan State, is second among Steelheads defensemen in points. He has five goals and eight assists in 30 games with a plus-4 rating.