Vancouver Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko is playing in his second Canucks Young Stars Classic, beginning Friday in Penticton from Sept. 8 to 11 at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Vancouver Canucks

Demko looking to impress at Young Stars

Top Vancouver Canucks goaltending prospect Thatcher Demko aims to be at his best

Beach time with his buddies in San Diego this summer was put on the backburner for Vancouver Canucks top prospect Thatcher Demko.

He was too busy taking classes at Boston College and training for his second season as a professional goalie. Demko is about five classes away from completing his degree in Applied Psych and Human Development as his major, with philosophy as a minor. The highlight of Demko’s summer was attending his good friends wedding.

The winner of the Mike Richter Award for the player voted most outstanding goaltender in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 hockey in 2015-16 is back in Penticton for his second Young Stars Classic. The 21-year-old enjoys being around his future teammates.

“We are all kind of up and coming. It’s good to see some of the new talent that was drafted this year (Kole Lind, 33rd overall, Jonah Gadjovich, 55th overall, Michael DiPietro, 64th overall and Matt Brassard, 188th overall) come in and see what they can do,” said Demko. “It’s going to be a really fun environment. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and getting things going.”

Related: Comets GM pumped about Canucks prospects

Demko remembers how the fans came out to watch. As of Thursday afternooon, 14,400 tickets had been sold. The 2014 second round pick 36th overall said the Penticton tournament is a way to get back into game shape and see game situations before training camp. The tournament helped him get the feel for the game as well as the pace. Demko comes in completing his first season in the American Hockey League with the Utica Comets. He put up a 22-17-1 record with a .907 save percentage and felt it was a good year after going through an adjustment period making the jump from college hockey, which he said came with “some growing pains.”

“I thought as the year went on I was able to make some adjustments and learn from some of the mistakes that I was making early on,” he said. “I definitely think I got a lot better as the year went on.”

Comets GM and director of player development for the Canucks, Ryan Johnson said Demko had an outstanding year and handled the adversity in the AHL well. Johnson saw Demko mature, especially with his approach because of injuries in Vancouver that forced the callup of his netminding partner Richard Bachman.

“He was handed the ball in a very important time of the season for the team in Utica,” said Johnson. “He did extremely well with it. He won 10 of 11 at one point. His growth as a player and a person was outstanding.

“His progression through the entire year is going to be exciting to watch,” continued Johnson, who played 701 NHL games in his career, including two seasons (2008 to 10) with the Canucks. “The AHL can very much eat up young players as is, never mind goaltenders when they first step into it. The way he handled himself was with poise, a real professional approach. He will only take another step.”

While in Penticton, Demko wants to play his best and impress Canucks management. With his rookie season behind him, Demko hopes the younger guys look up to him and ask questions about the tournament or training camp. Developing into a leader is something he looks forward to.

When asked how close he is to reaching the NHL, Demko understands it is a process with young goalie and isn’t unrealistic about that. Right now Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nillson are penciled in as the Canucks tandem this season.

“I’m just trying to go in with the mindset that I can compete with those guys,” he said, adding his first pro season helped him become more comfortable and said you try not to be intimidated by older players. “I think now my mindset is a lot different. I know I can hang with those guys. Hopefully I will be able to show that at camp.”


 

@pentictonsports
sports@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Video: Update one man arrested in Okanagan Falls

The RCMP has requested the school go into lockdown

Okanagan’s first Christmas was cold and bleak

Father Pandosy and his crew likely spent their first Christmas cold and hungry

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15-to-19 year-olds, including one in Coldstream

Holiday Train rolls through the Shuswap

Hundreds of people have gathered in Sicamous, Canoe and Salmon Arm for… Continue reading

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read