Taking Liberties With… Thatcher Demko
Position: Goaltender, Utica Comets (AHL)
Hometown: San Diego
Last Amateur Team: Boston College (Hockey East)
Youth Teams: San Diego Ice Cubes, San Diego Rangers, SDIA Attack, San Diego Jr. Gulls, Los Angeles Jr. Kings
California Rubber: Even though you’ve taken another step in your career, your past connections remain important, don’t they?
Thatcher Demko: Yes. Any time I can get back to San Diego, I enjoy it. I train there three weeks to a month every summer, go to the beach a lot, then I’m on to Connecticut for the rest of my training. I’m still working on my degree six weeks every summer. I’m an Applied Psychology and Human Development major.
CR: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up?
TD: There was big rivalry between us and the LA Selects. Playing in those games were a lot of fun. You knew they were playing against the best, so we liked to see where we stacked up against them.
CR: What is your favorite memory in the game since leaving California?
TD: There are so many. Playing in the international tournaments with the U.S. national program (he spent his 18U season with the NTDP), winning the Beanpot, going to two Frozen Fours and obviously, signing a pro contract.
CR: Who have been the biggest influences on you on and off the ice?
TD: First are my parents (Brenton and Danielle). Without them, none of this is possible. Another big person for me is Larry Cahn. I spent a year in charter school, so I could go skate in the middle of the day before practice. Larry always took time to skate with me and work with me. Guys like (Boston College assistant) Mike Ayers were another a huge component of my success.
CR: What advice would you give young hockey players?
TD: My go-to is to keep working. Just work. Playing pro hockey can seem far away, especially when you’re a kid. A lot of esoteric variables may seem important. If you work hard enough, you’re going to get to the places you want to go.
CR: Are there are any pieces of gear you’re particular about?
TD: I have a lot of fun designing pads. I try to keep it pretty unique. I keep it my own designs. With the helmet, I like to keep it fun. I go through two sets of pads a year and two helmets each year – each with different designs. Every time I get a new set, I get creative. My dad will look at designs with me. He likes to get crazy with the designs, so I have to shoot him down.
CR: What are essential items to take on a road trip?
TD: Headphones for sure. Usually take my laptop if I want to watch a show or a movie. One that I usually forget and get a hard time from all the guys is the phone charger.
CR: Do you listen to a lot of music?
TD: I’m a big music guy. I have a pretty mixed up variety – a few throwbacks, like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Country is good. And I like Russ or J. Cole.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
TD: There are three meals I rotate through to treat myself. First is In-N-Out. There is this Mexican joint by my house, Santana’s, and Filippi’s, a pizza place.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
TD: I grew up a huge Kings fan. I always watched Felix Potvin and Ziggy Palffy. Marty (Brodeur) winning the Cup in ’03 (with New Jersey), playing the Ducks, made me want to be a goalie. Marty’s one of the legends.
CR: What is the most challenging aspect of playing pro hockey?
TD: It’s a hard game. You always hear how important the mental aspect is, but you don’t realize it fully until you’re in it. You’re scrutinized for everything. Obviously, you want to keep working and get where you want to. The challenge is to keep big picture in mind.
Photo/Lindsay Mogle/Utica Comets
– Compiled by Chris Bayee
(Feb. 13, 2018)