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
“We traveled together for years and hockey, almost in a crazy way, kind of kept our family together,” Danielle said.
Major decisions were made as a group, up until the point when Demko felt confident enough to make them on his own.
Twelve years later, the phone rang again. Danielle, a former volleyball player at Arizona State, was 45 minutes away from coaching a match for her juniors team. A call from her son was the only thing that could possibly distract her while her girls warmed up.
It was a Wednesday before Halloween of 2010, and Demko was playing with the 16 AAA Jr. Kings team in LA. The USHL Futures draft had come and gone that year, and no team took the 15-year-old. Although he had already shown tremendous talent in the net, the draft happened right around the time of a massive growth spurt.
Danielle recalled her son complaining after one game that he’d stick his leg out to stop a puck like he’d always done, but his limb was jutting outside the post, leaving a wide gap for an easy score.
Now Danielle found herself locked in a bathroom and she couldn’t believe what her son was telling her.
“Mom,” Demko said,” Omaha’s calling me.”
There were some rumors flying around that the USHL’s Omaha Lancers, who had protected Demko, were working on a trade that would open up a roster spot at goal. Brenton followed all of it, and when the Lancers officially showed their interest he was on board. He liked the organization and thought it would be a good opportunity. Brenton, Demko’s advisor, and Bliss Littler, the Lancers’ head coach at the time, agreed that Littler should make the call to Demko so he could get his first taste of how junior hockey worked.
Demko called Brenton right after and the first thing he said was, “Dad, I’m moving to Omaha.” His father was slightly taken off guard, but it was nothing compared to Danielle’s reaction.
“Woah woah woah woah woah,” she thought. She told Demko she needed to call Brenton. She needed to call their advisor. She needed to call the coach before she sent her 15-year-old son off to play with 20-year-old men.
Demko didn’t say a word. He let his mother go on and on until she was finally done.
“Mom, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Demko told her when she finished freaking out. “Make whatever calls you’ve got to make. I’m going to Omaha.”
Two days later, Danielle and Brenton helped Demko pack up in LA and they were all in Omaha by Monday.
Now with a premier junior hockey team, ice time was no longer an issue like it had been back home.
“Trying to get ice time in San Diego for a goalie is insane,” Danielle said. “Thatcher’s story is so off the charts unusual.”
Brenton used to drive Demko two hours to LA and two hours back for a one-hour lesson. He did an inter-district transfer his freshman year of high school, which gave him more practice opportunities. He’d get driven to school at 8 a.m., stay for three hours, take public transportation over to the rink, get on the ice for an hour and a half, take public transportation back to school, get a few more hours of studying in, and then take a bus back to the rink for more practice.
Tweets by @bcheights
Voices From the Dustbowl
What is the most annoying snack someone can bring to class?