August 13, 2013 by conteconfidential
Incoming freshman goaltender Thatcher Demko was one of four Boston College hockey players who had the chance to audition for a spot on his country’s national junior team for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. Demko, along with newcomers Ian McCoshen and Steven Santini, skated for the United States while sophomore Michael Matheson played for Canada at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., from Aug. 3-10. The camp involved scrimmages between the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden and is the first step in picking the players who will compete at the World Juniors. Demko caught up with Conte Confidential about his time at the camp, what it was like being one of the youngest players in attendance and much more.
1) Can you start out by talking a little about your experience at the camp?
It was awesome. There were a lot of good players there. I met a lot of new guys. Obviously when you can play against some competition from the rest of the world, it’s not going to hurt you at all. It’s something a lot of guys look forward to, and I had a lot of fun.
2) You were one of the youngest players at the camp on the U.S. side, being one of three 2014 draft eligible players to attend and the only one to make the final roster. Can you speak about what it was like being one of the youngest players there and competing against the more experienced guys?
You can’t really think about it like that. I think you just got to go out there and just play like you’re the same age as everyone else. It was kind of cool, though, to have that experience before the draft, and the rest of the guys did a good job of welcoming me. They didn’t see me as a younger guy; they saw me as part of the team, which was pretty cool.
3) Was there anybody who was particularly welcoming out of the older guys?
Well obviously the guys that I played with last year, a bunch of the ‘95s that I had known [from playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program]. They were my best friends from last year. Everyone else too, the ‘94s were right there, asking questions and involving me with the group, which made it a little easier to fit in and play my game.
4) So it was really helpful to have the friendly faces from the NTDP there?
It’s always good to see them. They were a great team last year, and it was hard to split ways with them at the end of the year so any time I get to see one of the old guys, it’s always a pleasure. I love every one of them still. It’s awesome to hang out with them.
In two games with Team USA, Thatcher Demko recorded a 2.04 GAA and a .941 sv%. In two games with USA Blue, he had a 7.98 GAA and a .810 sv%. (photo credit: Nancie Battaglia)
5) Do you think that your experience of playing with the NTDP and going to international tournaments, like the IIHF Men’s World Under-18 Championship, made it easier to go into the camp?
Definitely. The NTDP is a great program. It helps you get prepared for everything, especially these quick camps with juniors and tryout camps. The international play experience was huge and going to the Under-18 Championship was a phenomenal experience that came into play as well.
6) You also got to play some games against college teams. Do you think that has made you more prepared to play at BC? [Demko backstopped the U-18 team to wins over Michigan State, Nebraska-Omaha and Merrimack and ties with Notre Dame and New Hampshire in exhibition games.]
Yeah, definitely. I’ve played meaningful games at this level so hopefully that will help me.
7) Being a rare true freshman and a goaltender to boot, what do you think BC fans can expect from you this season?
Hopefully they can expect me to be a guy who competes and will do anything to win. Hopefully they can see me in a couple games this year.
8) Your former NTDP teammates Steven Santini and Scott Savage will be your classmates at BC and former NTDP goaltending coach Mike Ayers was named an assistant coach at BC.
The guys who are coming from the NTDP are going to be a huge help because I’m familiar with them. Any time you go into a new situation with a couple people you’re familiar with it really helps to make the transition easier. And I couldn’t ask to bring three better guys with me. They’re great people and that’ll help me coming in this year.
9) What are you looking forward to most at BC?
I think just the rich history and being able to be involved with the whole college. When I was there, I just loved everything about it. People there just want you to succeed and want the best for you and the atmosphere is just so positive that it will be hard to not succeed.
10) You’re finishing high school over the summer. How has that been going?
It’s been a little bit of a grind to get my accelerated senior year done over the summer, but I’m taking my final for my last class so I’ll be a high school graduate. I’ll have, you know, seven days of summer until I leave for orientation. But I’m excited; I wish I just could fly there tomorrow.
Interview by Jen Dobias