Comets Tales: Meet Thatcher Demko
by Don LaibleAug 1, 2016
The Vancouver Canucks 2014 second round draft pick, Thatcher Demko, is entering his first season of professional hockey with plenty of fanfare - to say the least.
Comets Tales caught up with the 6'4" goaltender who is expected to start in Utica this season to learn more about his stellar collegiate career at Boston College, his expectations as a pro, and life away from the rink.
Q: What is a typical day for you living in San Diego?
A: I'll get up early, have a workout, then by 8 or 9am, go golfing. After a round, it is beach time; very casual.
Q: Do you surf?
A. Ah, I dabble at it a little, but I'm not very good. My mom and her husband live on the beach. I do it just to have a good time.
Q: It's projected that you'll be joining the Comets this fall. What have you heard about Utica?
A. I know they have had 55 consecutive sellouts. That is incredible. They've had some good hockey teams. There is a lot of excitement in The AUD.
Q: Have you been away from home for a prolonged period?
A: Yeah. I've first went away when I was 15 years old. When I'm there (Utica), I'm going to work on not being too overwhelmed.
Q: This past season (junior year) playing for the Boston College Eagles, you put up monstrous numbers. You are leaving the program on a high note.
A: I hit my college peak. I was lucky to be with the whole team through the end of the year. I was able to get in my good-byes, and have closure.
Q: Back to your individual recognitions. You were one of 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists, selected as the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men's hockey (Mike Richter Award), named the 2016 Co-Player of the Year by the Hockey East Association, and went to the Frozen Four finals - you have some serious bragging material, if you want.
A. I definitely enjoyed my time at BC. Coach York (Jerry York - first NCAA D-I men's hockey coach to win 1,000 games) played a role in my choosing to go there. BC is a smaller school and we're a close knit group. The baseball team came to our games, and we (hockey) went to their games - things like that.
Q: How important is the Bean Pot (annual tournament between the four major hockey programs in the Boston area: Harvard, Northeastern, Boston University, BC) each February?
A: We beat BU (1-0) in overtime this season. That was a highlight for all my teammates. I appreciate all the individual recognition, but my goal was always to win a national championship.
Q: At BC, you had some teammates who have since done well in the NHL.
A: Kevin Hayes (now with the Rangers), and Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames).
Q: You had hip surgeries on April 20, 2015, after your second season at BC. Describe what you went through.
A. I went to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. I had my hips and (torn) labrums taken care of. I had known for about four seasons that I would need them taken care of. (Hockey) began to be really painful, and I didn't have much mobility.
Q: What was the rehab like?
A. I gained flexibility and strength in my hips. I spent three and a half months rehabbing off of the ice, and played in the season opener on October 9. I had gone back to BC to rehab with our trainer (Bert Lenz) for the first 10 weeks. Then to San Diego, for one week, and Vancouver after that.
Q: You and Jack Eichel were teammates on the 2012-13 U.S. National Development team. What was that like?
A: He (Eichel) is a great teammate, and a dynamic player. Jack is a good leader that works hard, and sets an example for all of us in the room.
Q: What was the experience for you on draft day in Philly?
A: That was a crazy time. You never know what's going to happen. I didn't have to wait around too long. Six picks on the second day, and my name was called. Next thing I know, I'm having my picture taken with Trevor Linden and Jim Benning. I had a lot of family there.
Q: You've been to three Canucks' development camps. You should see some familiar faces in Utica.
A. Absolutely. That's the whole point of having the camps. Cole Cassels, Curtis Valk, and Jordan Subban, these guys will help me become comfortable a little quicker in Utica.
Q: You have HAP on your gear. What's the story behind this?
A: It means “Have A Purpose”. Five years ago my friend Ian Jenkins died, falling out of a truck. What happened to Ian gets you real close to reality. His parents went through a really tough time. I keep in touch with Ian's dad Joel. He hasn't been forgotten. I have it (HAP) on all of my gear - chest protector, helmet, pads.
(Ian Jenkins and Thatcher attended a camp for the best young goaltenders in America when they were 15-years-old. Shortly after the camp, Ian fell from the back of a truck, hit his head, and died).
Q: Are you much of a video gamer? Hooked on Pokemon Go?
A: No (laughs).
Q: What's on your packing list for Utica?
A: I'm not sure. My golf clubs, maybe.
Q: Will your parents be coming to watch you play in Utica?
A: I'm sure they will be out as much as they can.