Catasauqua Press

Friday, July 19, 2019

Komm hoping to have found a home

Friday, January 11, 2019 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

Consider that you lose your job and have to tell your wife. That’s not fun. Now, consider that you’re going to have to tell your wife that because you lost your job, you have to move from Idaho to Quad City, Illinois for another job.

Then after one day at work, you’re again let go and now have to move 978 miles to Manchester, New Hampshire. Then, just a few weeks later, good news; sort of. You weren’t fired, but you’ve been “transferred” to Reading, Pennsylvania. So, with three pretty substantial moves in three months, how happy is your wife?

That was goalie Branden Komm last season as he took a scenic tour of ECHL hockey cities looking for steady work. He played well with the Idaho Steelheads the season before and won 19 games and was in his third season with Idaho, all of which left him thinking he had some job security. The coach loved him, the fans were happy with his performance, what could go wrong?

Turns out the Steelheads found someone else they liked better, so Komm was headed to Quad City where he played one game and was out of work again. Next up was Manchester and then, last February, a trade to the Reading Royals.

Looking back, the first thought that comes to mind for Komm is about how feeling safe with Idaho was actually a really bad idea.

“It was a messy breakup,” he said about being let go.

Komm lasted almost a year in Reading before having to talk to his wife again about moving. This time though, it was good news. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were the next destination, giving Komm, 27, his first shot at playing in the AHL after playing nine-plus seasons in the ECHL for seven different teams. When he got the promotion, Komm was coming off of an injury, but he was still next up for the Phantoms.

“It felt great,” said Komm of his first AHL start in Hartford on Saturday, after admitting to some pregame nerves. “Obviously, I would have liked to get the win, but I thought the guys played hard in front of me. We were just a couple of bounces away.”

The old cliché of ‘he played well enough to win’ was used often to speak of Komm’s performance with the Phantoms in their 3-1 loss to the Wolf Pack.

“He’s not the reason we lost the game. We’re not going to win too many games scoring one goal, so good for him. He jumped in and played the game he had to play,” said coach Kerry Huffman after the team’s loss.

The Bentley University grad was back on the bench the following night backing up Alex Lyon when the Phantoms snapped their three-game losing skid.

LOSING QUICKLY ... Prior to their three-game skid, Lehigh Valley hadn’t lost back-to-back games this season. All three of the losses came in regulation, marking the first time the team had lost three-straight games since February of the 2016-2017 season and all three of those losses came in regulation as well. Since then, the Phantoms had just three back-to-back losses in games. To make things worse, all three losses were to division foes – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Providence and Hartford – who are below the Phantoms in the standings.

LOSING WELL ... Even though the Phantoms lost in Hartford 3-1, there was agreement between Huffman and the players that they played much better than they had in the two games prior. “If we’re going to generate scoring chances at that level, we’re going to win a lot of games,” said Huffman of Saturday’s performance. The win Sunday in Springfield leaves the Phantoms at 20-12-1-2 and in third place in the Atlantic Division.

THE OTHER GOALIE ... The loss in Hartford came to a familiar face. Former Phantoms goalie Dustin Tokarski was in goal for the Wolf Pack and saved 30 of 31 shots that Lehigh Valley put on goal. A night earlier, Tokarski saved 26 of 27 in a win over Springfield. The Phantoms had peppered Tokarski with three goals in the first five minutes of a game resulting in an early exit for their former teammate.