Few players in sports are as vital to their team’s success as a hockey goaltender.
For the Idaho Steelheads, Landon Bow has become the goalie of the present, winning 11 of his past 14 starts while posting some impressive statistics.
Meanwhile, the NHL’s Dallas Stars are hoping Bow can become their goalie of the future. Dallas rewarded the standout rookie with a two-year NHL contract March 10, affirming the organization’s belief that Bow’s dominance in Idaho could one day translate to the highest level.
“I’ve wanted to be a hockey player ever since I was a kid, so to have it come to fruition is a dream come true,” Bow said. “But I know it’s only the start. There’s a long way to go before you get (to the NHL), and a lot of hard work you have to put in to earn your spot.”
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Bow, a 6-foot-5 Alberta native, has split his rookie season between Idaho and the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars. He has been outstanding for the Steelheads, posting a 15-5 record with a 2.24 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. Both of those stats rank No. 2 in the ECHL.
“Brandon is a driven hockey player with a winning attitude,” Idaho coach Neil Graham said. “It’s been fun to watch him take the next step, and it’s a good example that if you play well and your team has success, (NHL) teams take notice.”
Bow’s hot play between the pipes has catalyzed a turnaround for the Steelheads, who’ve responded to a season-worst six-game winless streak by winning 8-of-10 coming into this week’s homestand against the Rapid City Rush. Bow posted two shutouts in that stretch — a 43-save effort at Utah and a 27-save outing at Rapid City.
“He’s definitely keeping us in games and winning us games,” said forward Anthony Luciani, who leads the Steelheads with 25 goals and 55 points. “We have a lot of confidence in him — we know he has our back, and we’ve got his.”
Playing goalie carries a high degree of difficulty, requiring players to use any and all body parts to keep speeding, frozen puck out of the net. Fancy glove saves and flailing, acrobatic stops often make the highlight reel, but Bow says he’s at his best when he keeps things simple.
“When I try to do too much or think too much, that’s when I open up more than I normally do,” Bow said. “When I have success, it’s more about trusting my process and trusting the guys in front of me.”
Bow also has a great supporter in fellow Idaho goalie Branden Komm. The third-year pro has 14 wins this season and also ranks in the ECHL’s top-10 with a .941 save percentage. With playoff hockey just around the corner, Graham knows both players will have a vital role if Idaho is to make a deep run at the Kelly Cup.
“You need two goalies, and we’re fortunate to have two guys who get along really well but also push each other extremely hard,” Graham said. “It’s nice to have that competition. It helps both players’ development, and they’re going about it the right way.”
Idaho Steelheads vs. Rapid City Rush
- When: 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
- Where: CenturyLink Arena
- Radio/TV: 1350 AM/Cable One channel 72
- Tickets: CenturyLink Arena box office, idahosteelheads.com
- Notable: Idaho is 7-3 against Rapid City this season, winning the past five meetings…The Steelheads are in third place in the Mountain Division and are closing in on a 20th consecutive playoff appearance… Idaho will wear special “Pink in the Rink” jerseys Friday and Saturday. They will be auctioned off. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to benefit St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute to support cancer research.