‘Leaving has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make:’ BC Hockey’s Thatcher Demko

A farewell interview with BC’s goaltender

What do good Catholic girls and Thatcher Demko have in common? No Players Score!

Well, that is at least the objective, and this year Demko has done a great job in making that happen. Thatcher Demko will be leaving Boston College and heading to Vancouver to capture his life long dream to become a NHL hockey player.

Thatcher’s legacy after completing his 2016 season will hold some personal records, as well as a few for the Eagles. Unfortunately, the 2016 National Championship eluded him, but his accolades will long be remembered in the history books at Boston College.

As an Eagle, Demko is leaving as the NCAA’s Top Collegiate Goalie, the 2016 Mike Richter Award winner, a 2016 Hobey Baker Finalist, Two-time Beanpot Champion, Co-Team MVP, First-team New England Division All-Star Team, Second Team All-American, and earning various other awards.

We all know by now that Demko is from San Diego, California, and wasn’t in love with the sport of hockey the first time he laced up his skates. So I sat down with Thatcher before he leaves for the Men’s World Championships for a quick Q&A in hopes of sharing something you may not know about him before this Eagle does his swan song.

You clearly have been on an accelerated path in chasing your dream. You left high school as a junior, arriving to BC at 17, and are now leaving college a year early. Do you ever think you might be missing out on just enjoying being young?

Definitely. Everything’s been moving really quickly in the last five or so years. I definitely had some premature goodbyes with friends and everybody, but that’s all part of it.

You have to make sacrifices for this kind of thing, whether it is school, a different hobby, or a different sport. You can’t get to that top level unless you make those sacrifices, but it’s definitely worth it.

Do you plan on continuing your education and get that diploma just as a personal box checked?

Yeah for sure. I think it’s more than just a box that needs to be checked for me. Hockey doesn’t last forever. I was lucky enough to come to a prestigious university like this, and I want to finish it out.

Having some pretty substantial players leave this season, what advice would you give your Eagle teammates on regrouping to make next season more than a rebuilding one?

I think they have the tools. At first, with all the new guys coming in, there could be a lack of confidence with an entirely different, new group.

Not having the leaders in the room that we had this past season is going to be tough, but they just need to remember how good they are. We have really good players staying here, and they need to recognize and remember that.

Have you received any advice from veteran Eagles who have already made it to the pros on how to handle it all like Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames) or Mikey Matheson (Florida Panthers)… if so what??

They have said that obviously the adjustment is different for everyone. There’s a guy like Johnny who stepped in and became one of the better players on the Flames right away, and then there’s guys like Mikey who had to play in the minors for a little bit until he got his time and was called up.

They both have told me to be patient with it. Nothing is going to happen overnight. You are so eager to get to the NHL, but you have to understand that it still takes time.

Your family is clearly proud of you and has stated that during multiple interviews. Now it’s your chance. Obviously sacrifice as a family to see you reach your dreams has been a group effort.

What are you most proud of your Dad for or what would you like to thank him for?

I want to thank him for everything. He is everything to me. I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am without him and his support. I’m proud of him for maturing as a father and as a person over the years that he’s had me.

We definitely had some tough spots when I was younger, and as I look back on those years it’s crazy to see how much he has also grown as a person while I’ve grown up. We’re friends now more than ever.

What are you most proud of your Mom for or what would you like to thank her for?

I’d like to thank her for putting up with me and understanding that me talking to her just once a week with everything else I have going on is out of love and nothing else.

I’m really proud of her for being a single mom. That has to be the toughest job that anyone can have, especially back when she was balancing three jobs and still finding time to come home and watch a movie with me.

After The Men’s World Championships will you head back to BC or will it be San Diego or Vancouver for the summer?

I am coming back to BC to do summer school and work more on the degree. I’ll be taking classes with the boys. I want to spend as much time as I can here because leaving this place has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make. My teammates and the community feel here is really special.

Your girlfriend, Lexie Shaw at University of North Dakota, is also a hockey goalie. Is there any advice that she has given you that you have actually incorporated into your game?

Not really. You’d probably think it would be weird, being that we are both goalies, but we really don’t talk a lot about hockey. I guess it’s just a coincided thing for us.

A lot of people were sad to see that Dancing Demko was so short lived at Conte Forum. Do you think you will be bringing him back when your stage becomes one that is national?

I don’t think so. I was given a hard time about that at the NHL Combine and development camps about my dancing, and they saw it as a sign of immaturity. Maturing as a player, I think Dancing Demko is permanently retired.

Best advice that Jerry York has ever given you on the ice?

He preaches confidences to you while you’re on the ice. He realizes that a confident player is a good player, and I think that is one thing he tries to drive home to every athlete that passes through his program.

Best advice that Jerry York has ever given you off the ice?

It’s hard to put in just a few words, but Coach York is one of the better guys I have ever met, and he has such an impact on all of his players. He tries to teach all of his players dignity and just how to be a good guy. He definitely takes pride in maturing his players, and he does a great job at it.

If you could name one save that you’ve made as an Eagle that you even surprised yourself with, which would it be?

Pauses… (Having a hard time thinking of just one).

I’d have to say the one diving save my sophomore year against Vermont was probably the best. That one got the most hype around it.


A lot.

Everything on game day is timed. Wake up at the same time. Go to the rink at the same time. Eat at the same time. Skate. Tape your stick. Pregame meal. Get a coffee. Everything is timed.

I’m really attentive to that, and I’ve never broken that timing. Some people have crazy superstitions, and I don’t think I’m like that, but I have little things like the order in which I get dressed. I like the routine, and it keeps me in check.

When you were a freshman you had about 200 followers on Instagram. Now you have well over 10K. Do you ever shake you head and wonder who are these people and why are they following me?

Yeah, absolutely. You have to love all the support. The mini fan bases I have going in all the different places I’ve been in are great, but there are definitely some questionable figures out there.

You receive a lot of love from the BC fans, but there are always going to be haters that hate. How do you cope?

I think it’s funny. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Some people will tweet things at me saying that I let in a bad goal, and I’m like “I already know it was bad, okay?” I’ll retweet, favorite it or comment back.

Biggest regret at BC?

Not winning a National Championship. I think we had the teams and opportunities to do it. Obviously, it’s not an easy thing to do, but I wish that had happened.

What’s your favorite memory at BC that has nothing to do with hockey?

Marathon Monday, for sure.

Favorite class during the past three years?

Ethics of the Person… really good philosophy class.

As starving students we are kind of limited on what we spend, what will be the first thing you buy with your first paycheck?

I’ve never owned or had a car before, so buying a car will probably be my first big boy purchase. 

College allows for bonds to be made pretty instantly with complete strangers. Have you fully absorbed the fact that when you leave BC you may never see the people who have influenced your life pretty substantially, or do you feel you will make the effort to keep in touch with great friends like Ian McCoshen, Austin Cangelosi, and Steve Santini?

No doubt. Those guys are my best friends. They are my lifeline. They are one of the reasons I really thought about staying and just being a kid for one more year.

Now that we are all going in different directions we have already started talking about setting aside a weekend at least once every summer so we can all get together and catch up. Those guys are really important to me.

If not a hockey player what would Thatcher Demko want to be?

I honestly don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. Hockey coach… does that count?

A goalie’s helmet is like a piece of art. Your past helmets seem to reflect our troops, recognition of the death of a close friend and something about a future goal. What, if anything, will you put on your Canucks helmet to remember Boston College? 

I really haven’t thought that far yet, but BC will definitely be represented on my future helmet, maybe on the back plate.

Is there one piece of memorabilia that you will pack away from BC that will remind you of your time at Boston College?

Pictures. Looking back from day one on campus they just walk me through the whole experience. I have plenty of good ones that will be fun to flip through in a few years.


There is no doubt that Demko (Vancouver Canucks) along with many of the players leaving this year: Adam Gilmour and Alex Tuch (Minnesota Wild) and Steve Santini and Miles Wood (New Jersey Devils) will continue demonstrating their hockey talents in the NHL. These Eagles may have flown the coupe this year, but Jerry York will have a new flock of Eagles ready to soar and continue to prove to Hockey East that WE ARE BC!

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