By Nathan Fournier / Boston Herald
Babson College goaltenders Matt Pompa and Bryan Botcher both knew when they arrived on campus for the 2015-16 season, playing time would come at premium. All-everything senior Jaime Murray was at the helm, after all.
While Murray racked up awards that season — the Sid Watson Award as NCAA Division 3 Player of the Year, and the New England Hockey Conference Player and Goalie of the Year honors chief among them — a bond was forming during practices among the two then-freshmen, who were trying to stay sharp in case they were needed for a start.
Pompa played in six games that season, going 5-1.
"(Pompa) has been one of my best friends for as long as I have been here," Botcher said. "We have pretty much lived together for most of our time here. I think we both understand whoever is in net, we are out there to support them. I know when I gave up an overtime goal to end our season our sophomore year, Matt was the first one on the ice to be there with me. I think, that shows how good of a bond we have together."
The past two seasons, the pair has been sharing the crease when they've both been healthy, and no matter which goalie is net, the Beavers usually believe they have a good chance to win.
Pompa got the majority of the starts in 2017-18 after Botcher suffered a wrist injury in his first start of the year Nov. 3. Pompa went 10-8-3 with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Botcher returned in January and went 5-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a .932 save percentage.
As sophomores, Pompa made 15 starts and Botcher had 14.
"Both guys would love to play every night, that's human nature, everyone wants to play," Babson coach Jamie Rice said of his duo, now seniors. "That's why I keep going back to their maturity and their friendship, it's like a brother type. You can be really competitive with you brother, but at the end of the day, he's still your brother."
What make this 1-2 punch work has been the communication between the goalies and the coaching staff, knowing both probably will get a start during a weekend no matter who's the hotter goalie.
"I don't think there really has been because of the great level of communication — understanding on what we are doing, what's important to this team and what helps this team win," Pompa said. "I think that always been clear and that been a credit to coach Rice and everybody on the coaching staff with the way they handle us and treat us."
Pompa said his mindset didn't change when Botcher suffered his injury. He just knew his job was to stop pucks.
Botcher did his best to support Pompa while his wrist healed.
"When I was hurt, I was up above (in the press box) watching the game," Botcher said. "You ask any coach or any player, you kind of see the game a little better. I think being above you can pick up things that if you are on the ice, you might not and I think that can be beneficial."
It has been five years since Beavers last won an NEHC title. Pompa and Botcher know that's the end goal, regardless of who starts.
"I think, there's so much mutual respect and again keeping the mind of the bigger goal which is the team," Pompa said. "That's the other thing we both have in common, at the end of the day, we are here to win — whether it's Bryan or me in net — it's giving this team a chance to win and compete for a league championship."