Thatcher Demko moves with a type of fluid grace that marks the enviable fusion of uncanny coordination and mind-numbing repetition—pads flashing or glove rising, his actions are smooth but powerful, instinctive but sharpened by thousands of hours of experience.
For the overwhelming majority of the first two periods of Boston College men’s hockey’s home-opening 6-2 win over Colorado College—withstanding a sloppy, backhand clearance on the boards—Demko protected BC’s net with an unflappable aura of calmness. He tipped a knuckling puck into the air and shot out of the butterfly to catch it, he positioned perfectly, locked down his near–side post, and his glove snapped with a reassuring and cocooning accuracy. On his game and a step ahead of the play, Demko was—as the wise men say—in the zone.
And then, he exploded.
Rocketing toward goal on a 2-on-1, Colorado’s Scott Wamsganz upended Demko, knocking the net off its bearings, and spurring the sophomore shot stopper into a face-jabbing, stick-hitting fury. Demko matched Wameganz’ goalie interference penalty with a slashing penalty, and probably would have attempted to sever a Colorado head if the refs hadn’t dragged him away.
“Guy kind of came in and cross-checked me, I kind of felt like it was a little unnecessary,” Demko said. “Obviously I can’t be losing my cool like that, cause they had the penalty at first and then they called me for slashing, so it evened out and we would have had a 5-on-3. Definitely kind of have to take a page out of my book from last year and remain calm in that situation.”
Demko reverted to his natural on-ice demeanor in the third period and stopped 33 shots in total over the course of three frames. Throughout his young career at BC, Demko’s won consistently—his win-loss record reads a cool 18-6-3—but for the first time in what seems like a while, his performance was absolutely dominant. At the end of last season, Demko ran through what might be considered a shaky patch. Notre Dame rocked him at home in the three-game series preceding the postseason, and then, in three NCAA Tournament games—albeit against the best teams in the country—the then-freshman let in 10 goals, including some soft ones against Lowell.
He finished the year with a quality .919 save percentage and 2.24 goals against average—phenomenal numbers, especially for a freshman—but it wasn’t a rock solid conclusion for the rookie. Then, the Vancouver Canucks’ second-rounder gave up five goals in the 2014-15 season opener against UMass-Lowell.
No rational person ever questioned his status as a starter at any of these points, but on Friday, the return to sharp-edged form was a welcome sight in Conte Forum.
“I think it’s the best I’ve felt this season, obviously I had a lot of help,” Demko said. “There’s a play early in the first period, I think it might have been on the power play, where I made a save and the guy had a wide open net, and Destry Straight came across and made a great play and blocked a goal. So it’s just little plays like that that help me out throughout the game. Our D-core is so solid that it kind of makes it easier for me to play.”
Demko’s back, and the graceful calm still rules, but there’s a bit of fire burning beneath that ice-cool exterior.
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff