MEN'S HOCKEY: History In The Making
Freshman Goalie Thatcher Demko Looks Ahead With An Eye On The Past
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 15:10
Jesse Acciacca has been airbrushing goalie masks for the Boston College men’s hockey team for more than 10 years. Players usually scribble out a simple drawing with the BC logo, school crest, an Eagle, and a request for either a white or a maroon base, and Acciacca handles the rest himself.
This wasn’t the case for Thatcher Demko. BC’s incoming freshman goalie—the youngest player in college hockey this season—emailed Acciacca a full computer-generated rendering of what he wanted.
There’s the crest on the left, the logo on top, and a ripped, screeching eagle on the chin, but there’s also more. A row of runners, filled in with an American flag, make up the right side of the mask in between banners reading “Boston Strong” and “April 15, 2013.” The base is a rarely-used champagne gold. On the back plate rests an illuminated picture of the NCAA championship trophy surrounded by the four BC goalies who have raised it—names Demko can rattle off in a second: Burke ’49, Clemmensen ’01, Muse ’08 and ’10, and Milner ’12.
Around the trophy representing his goal for the future, Demko placed his past. The logos for his hometown team in San Diego, his USHL squad in Omaha, and the U.S. national development team circle the trophy, along with the logo for the foundation started in the memory of his friend Ian Jenkins, a goalie who passed away at the age of 15.
Demko has a respect for history, and that’s not surprising. His wild history is what got him to Chestnut Hill fighting for a starting goalie spot months before his 18th birthday.
There are only five sheets of ice in San Diego, and one of them is rarely used for hockey. This didn’t bode well for Demko’s father, Brenton, and his dreams of having a son play his favorite sport.
Brenton used to joke around with Demko’s mom, Danielle, saying, “We’re only going to have boys, and they’re all going to play hockey.”
Danielle always responded by asking what if they wanted to play the flute, like she did when she was growing up.
“I don’t care what he does after practice,” Brenton would quip back.
Despite his California upbringing, hockey is practically in Demko’s blood. His father shares dual-citizenship between the U.S. and Canada, and Brenton remembers watching Jim Craig, the 1980 Team USA gold medal goalie from the Miracle on Ice team, play for the Atlanta Flames when he was growing up. One of Brenton and Danielle’s first dates was at an LA Kings game with seats right up on the glass.
“I think he was trying to sell me on the sport,” Danielle said.
When Demko was born, his father was a huge Kings fan and regularly had their games on. One time Demko pointed at the TV and said he wanted to try it, so his dad got him a little puck and stick to hit around the living room. Sometimes Brenton would try pulling Demko around on two rollerblades, but he wasn’t very good.
Then, one day when Brenton was ready to give his son another chance at skating on the blades, the phone rang. Brenton went to answer it and came back to find a three-year-old Demko pushing himself around on just his right skate. Danielle and Brenton let Demko ride around for 20 minutes before switching things up, letting their son use just the left skate.
Brenton and Danielle divorced when Demko was about two-and-a-half, but the two remained close throughout his childhood.