Bentley was on a hot streak. The Falcons had been undefeated in six games headed into their game against the famed Boston University program.
Branden Komm recorded 42 saves and didn’t give up a goal until there was just five minutes left in regulation, leading his team to a 4-1 win on Dec. 14.
Any time a school from Atlantic Hockey beats one of the storied programs of Hockey East, the win makes news. So this was a particularly opportune time for Komm, a Williamsville native, to set the Bentley program record for most career wins.
“People were telling me I was closing in on the record and I knew I had a chance to do it at BU,” Komm said. “I want to win every game, but it did make it more sweet beating BU. My family was there. I don’t think it’s just a goaltending statistic. It’s a team statistic as well.
“It just shows how far Bentley and the entire program has come. The individual statistic is great but what I really want is an Atlantic Hockey championship. That’s what I’m working toward.”
The work is paying off as Komm and the Bentley Falcons (11-8-2, 9-3-2) are in second place in Atlantic Hockey as they come into Buffalo to face Canisius (8-11-1, 7-5-1) for noon games on Saturday and Sunday at the Buffalo State Ice Arena.
Bentley is looking for its first trip to the NCAA Tournament, as the Falcons have played hockey at the Division I level since the 1999-00 season.
The Falcons’ eight-game unbeaten streak ended Jan. 4 with a 5-3 home loss to Niagara. During that streak, though, Komm went 7-0-1 and had a 1.48 goals against average with a .954 save percentage.
Komm credits his team more than his individual performance with his solid numbers and his ability to win. The victory at Boston University was the 36th of his career and broke the Bentley mark that stood since 1984.
“The team is a lot better in front of me,” said Komm, who now has 39 wins. “When the forwards are doing their job and the defense is doing its job, it makes my job easier. Then it’s just about my approach to the game. During the season there will be ups and downs. You’ve got to take the ups and downs as they come. You don’t want to get too overworked about it. That’s something I’ve learned maturing through college, going through some unfortunate losses.”
What has also helped is his ability to understand the game and make adjustments. Take the loss to Niagara.
“Niagara played a great game and they exposed some things we needed to work on,” Komm said.
“I know that they did shoot intentionally wide against me a couple of times to try and get a good bounce off the back of the boards. That’s how they got one of their goals. A lot of times when the defense has the puck they shoot intentionally to miss and hit the back of the net to get a bounce to guys on the backdoor.”
This weekend will be a homecoming for Komm, who went to Williamsville North before leaving Western New York for prep school, Northfield Mount Herman in Massachusetts.
Last year, Canisius ended Bentley’s season at the Buffalo State Ice Arena, winning two games in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.
Canisius, meanwhile, is looking to regain its nice feeling of home after losing a two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss to Sacred Heart last Sunday. The Golden Griffins are two points of out fourth place and a first-round playoff bye. The Griffs are 4-1-1 at home.
Meanwhile, Niagara (5-12-3, 5-5-2) hosts Holy Cross (4-15-2, 3-12-0) at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday in Dwyer Arena. The Purple Eagles hope the right team shows up after a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance last weekend during a two-game split with American International (6-2 loss followed by a 5-0 win).
As has been the case all season, NU will again be without last year’s leading scorer, but this time Ryan Murphy’s absence will be permanent. Murphy is no longer with the program.
Murphy had been suspended for 18 games after he had been charged with driving while intoxicated and other motor vehicle violations after a Sept. 29 accident in Lewiston. He was eligible to return to practice Monday but had been removed from all Niagara rosters as of last Saturday. In 100 career games, he recorded 28 goals and 64 points. He had 15 goals and 36 points last year in helping Niagara make the NCAA Tournament.