The last time Thatcher Demko was not his team’s starting goalie, he was a 15-year-old rookie in the United States Hockey League playing for the Omaha Lancers, who aren’t actually in Nebraska’s largest city but play in the suburb of Ralston.
Demko moved from San Diego to play in Ralston, Neb., eight years ago. It worked out alright because Demko went on to become a starter in the U.S. National Team Development Program, then a star at Boston College, a second-round 2014 draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks and the No. 1 goalie for the American League’s Utica Comets.
But now, the 23-year-old is in the National Hockey League with the Canucks, where until Monday his job was to back up starter Jacob Markstrom.
Nearly three weeks since he last played a game (in the pre-season) Demko suddenly became the starter when the Canucks announced on Thanksgiving Monday that Markstrom was granted a leave for family reasons.
With a .926 save percentage through four games, Markstrom is off to a terrific start this season. But he is home in Sweden this week and not expected to rejoin the Canucks until their upcoming road trip reaches New York for games Saturday and Sunday against the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.