The Steelheads had big skates to fill when goaltender Jack Campbell was promoted last week.
The Dallas Stars’ No. 1 pick in 2010 played 20 games with Idaho before he was recalled to Texas of the American Hockey League. Campbell was 14-5-1 and led the ECHL with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage while with Idaho.
But don’t expect coach Neil Graham to search for a panic button.
“We’re moving forward with what we have, and we have two very good goalies,” Graham said.
Those goalies are Philippe Desrosiers and Branden Komm.
Komm was acquired from South Carolina in January, and Graham said the trade was not a quick fix.
“He’s not on a tryout with us,” Graham said. “Branden Komm is a very good goaltender. We traded an AHL contract to get him. I want Branden Komm here. This summer, he’s not going anywhere if I can help it. I like him.”
The Bentley University product stopped 38-of-39 shots in a 4-1 victory over Utah on Saturday night that solidified Idaho’s hold on first place in the West Division.
“He played great,” Graham said. “He’s athletic and he’s very competitive. There was a moment where he was beat and all of a sudden his pad grows an extra two inches and he sprawls across the ice and makes a big save. ... He does not want anything getting by him and he’ll do anything he can to keep that puck out. It’s pretty fun watching him play.”
Komm grew up in Williamsville, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo, and said he tries to bring a blue-collar mentality to the ice.
“We’re really passionate in Buffalo about our sports, so I just try to bring that same passion out on the ice and just be as competitive as I can be,” he said.
So far, so good.
Komm compiled a 6-2-0 record with South Carolina, and Saturday’s win improved his record with Idaho to 3-1-0. It was the first time he has played at CenturyLink Arena.
“To have the (fans) behind you and bringing the energy they did was a great feeling,” said Komm, who has a .936 save percentage since joining the Steelheads. “It’s just a great barn to play in.”
Desrosiers made his CenturyLink Arena debut Oct. 17. Early in the season, he struggled with consistency and sometimes looked like the 20-year-old unpolished rookie he was.
“There were some ups and downs for Phil,” Graham said. “But he really found his stride in December, and he went on a 5-0-1 stretch before being recalled.”
Desrosiers started 10 games with Texas and compiled a 5-5 record with a .903 save percentage. Meanwhile, Campbell was tearing it up in Idaho. Last week, the Stars organization sent Campbell back to Texas and returned Desrosiers to Idaho.
Desrosiers said the message he received was loud and clear: “The only reason you’re going down is to play more. You’re young.”
The Quebec native said that message has been consistent as he finds his way in the pro game.
“The task was clear at the start of the season. They wanted me to play a lot,” said Desrosiers, who is 8-6-4 with Idaho. “It’s part of the process, and now I’m here and all I want to do is win and have a good playoff run.”
In the meantime, Graham is forging ahead with Komm and Desrosiers.
“They’re both very capable of being No. 1,” he said, “but they need to push each other, and I have no doubt they will.”
Five-game home stand continues
▪ What: Alaska (20-29-6) at Idaho (30-20-7)
▪ When: 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
▪ Where: CenturyLink Arena
▪ Radio/TV: KTIK 1350 AM/Cable One channel 72
▪ Notes: The Steelheads will host their annual “Pink in the Rink” jersey auction Friday and Saturday. Proceeds will go to St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute. … Saturday will mark Idaho’s fifth consecutive home game, the longest stretch this season.