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
He had monthly conference calls with a sports psychologist starting at the age of 12 to work on visualization and mental strength, taking notes and absorbing as much as he could. Whenever Demko was in a different place for hockey—Michigan, Canada, Massachusetts—Brenton would look up the best goalie coach in the area and get his son a lesson.
But it wasn’t Brenton forcing the game on an unwilling son. Demko loved it, and Brenton was following through on a deal he made early in his son’s life.
“If you put in the effort and have fun and show that you’re doing all the extra things between practices and you have the dedication,” Brenton told him, “then I’ll do my part.”
“He was always there for me,” Demko said of his father. “Never complained. I guess that just made it a lot easier for me to keep my love for the game when I was little.”
His mother put it best.
“If he was thirsty,” Danielle said, “Brent freaking gave him water.”
Although hockey was a priority for the family, it wasn’t the only one.
“[Brenton] loves his son, and always growing up hockey was not more important than Thatcher’s character and his grades,” Danielle said. “He would always say if you don’t have those two things it doesn’t matter what you do in hockey.”
Demko was supposed to stay in Omaha for three years, but then he did enough to get another call. It was the call that, indirectly, sent him on his path to Chestnut Hill. That call was from Mike Ayers, BC’s new goalie coach this season, and it came with an offer to join the USA Under-18 national team, which Ayers worked for at the time. For Demko, it was a no-brainer. He was in.
After showing some interest early, BC cooled off on Demko after 2015 goalie Chris Birdsall committed to the Eagles. Demko was devastated when he found out, and canceled an upcoming visit with what was his top school. With the help of his family, he shifted his focus to other options like Cornell, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Denver.
But Demko’s play with the national team last fall changed the minds of the BC coaches. Through 45 appearances with Team USA, Demko posted a record of 31-9 and set the record for the program’s single-season goals against average with 2.06. In late October, the team forced a 2-2 tie with a top-ranked Minnesota squad in what was one of the best games Brenton had seen his son play. A few days later, Demko’s team defeated Dubuque, an undefeated USHL team, 2-1 as he stopped all three chances in the closing shootout.
BC contacted Demko’s advisor after the impressive display, hoping there was a possibility he could accelerate and come in as a 2013 goalie to join the competition trying to replace Parker Milner. The family talked about it and, after Brenton spent a few weeks making sure the academic side could work, decided to make up that canceled visit.
On the December weekend of Demko’s 17th birthday, Team USA beat Merrimack in front of BC head coach Jerry York and assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh on Saturday and tied then-No. 1 New Hampshire in front of BC assistant Greg Brown on Sunday. BC offered Demko, now the No. 1 goalie recruit in the nation, during his visit on Monday.