Thatcher Demko Ends Recruiting Chase with BC Commitment
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
U.S. NTDP U-18 goaltender Thatcher Demko boasts a stat line against Division I opponents that most Division I goalies would be jealous of.
Demko is 2-0-3 on the season with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage against D-I teams.
And this isn’t against the sludge of college hockey, either. Demko’s three ties came against Notre Dame, Minnesota and New Hampshire, while the Wildcats were the No. 1 team in the country two weeks ago.
His two wins came against Alabama-Huntsville and then again on Dec. 8, when he made 20 saves in a win over Hockey East’s Merrimack.
What’s even more impressive about Demko is that the large majority of his early-season success against Division I opponents came while he was just 16 years old. He turned 17 two weeks ago, and celebrated it with a win over the Warriors at Lawler Arena.
A late-’95, Demko isn’t even eligible for the NHL Draft until 2014, yet here he sits, one of the most coveted recruits in the nation and arguably the best goaltender coming into college hockey next season.
Last Sunday, he ended speculation by committing to Boston College. He visited the Chestnut Hill campus Dec. 10 and was also considering Massachusetts, Northeastern, Western Michigan and Cornell, according to various reports.
“Last year, I wouldn’t have told you I’d be here playing against Division I teams,” said the San Diego, Calif., native. “It happened unexpectedly, but this year has been surreal. Sometimes in class I just think about it and it’s crazy. I get to wear the USA everyday, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Demko is a huge part of the NTDP’s succes thus far. Along with an impressive record against Division I schools, Demko has dominated Division III and USHL competition as well as backstopping Team USA to a gold medal in the Four Nations tournament earlier this year alongside uncommitted goalie Hunter Miska.
“Goaltending for us, being so young, is key early in any game,” said NTDP head coach Don Granato. “If we don’t play sound in the net at the start of the game, and they score, it has the potential to be a different game.”
Against the Warriors, Demko stopped a pair of breakaways against sophomore sniper Josh Myers, including his first stop of the game just minutes in.
“That breakaway save was key,” Granato said. “That save, early in the game, if he doesn’t make that our confidence can take at turn south, fast.”
He continued, “He’s a goalie. He goes to bed thinking and dreaming about goaltending.”
When Demko at BC this fall, he’ll be the next big thing on campus. Literally. Measuring 6-foot-3, as a newly-minted 17-year old, means he’s likely not done adding some inches to his height.
In the crease he uses his large frame to his advantage, however, he doesn’t solely rely on it; a big reason he’s as successful as he is.
“A lot of guys my size try to just play the block system,” he said. “They go down and take up as much of the net as they can. But, I’ve been trying to get away from that because I’ve seen guys starting to get beat with that, so I’m trying for more of a hybrid style and use athleticism with my size. The combo really works out sometimes.”
As for his college decision, it was an arduous process at times.
Visits, phone calls and the pressure of making a decision that could have a significant effect on not only his hockey career, but his life.
“I have great parents and a great advisor,” he said. “They work together and keep the pressure off of me and just let me worry about hockey. They relay the news to me that needs to be known but they just let me play and they take care of the business side of it.”
When he arrives at BC, he’ll come in a seasoned goaltender. In a way, he’s already a freshman.
“The experience this year is huge,” he said.
And so is Demko’s career potential.