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Demko's 27 saves power BC into Beanpot title game

by Mike G. Morreale

Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top 2014 draft-eligible goaltenders in North America, made 27 saves to help lead the nation's No. 2-ranked team to a 3-1 victory against Boston University on Monday before a packed house in the semifinal round of the 62nd Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden in Boston.

The Eagles (20-4-3), the four-time defending champion, will face Northeastern in the championship game on Monday at TD Garden for the third time in the past four Beanpot finals. BC scored a 6-3 victory against the Huskies in the 2013 Beanpot championship game.

Demko, who even earned an assist on a third-period goal by Johnny Gaudreau, won his sixth straight game and improved to 9-1-2 with a 1.90 goals-against average and .930 save percentage for the Eagles. Boston College received goals by Ryan Fitzgerald (Boston Bruins), Kevin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks) and Gaudreau (Calgary Flames). The Terriers received their only goal of the game by Robert Baillargeon (Ottawa Senators).

Boston College defenseman Scott Savage, No. 161 on Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters, had one assist and a plus-1 rating in the triumph.

The 6-foot-3.75, 192-pound Demko, who catches with his left hand, is looking to become the first American-born goalie drafted in the first round since the Dallas Stars selected Jack Campbell with the 11th pick in 2010.

"He's a huge strong goalie with excellent net coverage," Central Scouting's goalie guru Al Jensen said. "He has that NHL presence in the net. He's more of a positional style goalie that relies on his angles and size and he plays big in his stance.

"When he drops in the butterfly, he gets his body in front of a lot of shots. He's smart at reading the play and gets set quickly; strength is definitely not an issue with him."

Demko is the youngest player participating in the NCAA ranks. He was the second youngest (after 2015 draft-eligible center Jack Eichel) to play for the United States National Junior Team at the 2014 World Junior Championship.

Boston College assistant coach Mike Ayers compares Demko's style to that of Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.

"He has an ability to move very well laterally and is able to recover pucks," Ayers said.

Ayers, the former goaltending coach at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, knows that with more experience and teaching, Demko will only improve.

"Thatcher is extremely competitive and very coachable," Ayers said. "To me, if you have those two things it's very positive for his development. For a bigger kid, he's pretty athletic. I think at the beginning of the year he may have lacked just a little bit of confidence knowing he was the youngest college player, and that's only natural.

"But he's continued to battle and has gotten wins for us. For a 17-year-old freshman to come in and do what he's done is pretty impressive. It's a true sign of his makeup and attitude and his hunger to be better."

Northeastern, which has won four Beanpot titles in its history, advanced to the championship round following a 6-0 victory against Harvard University on Monday at TD Garden. Center Mike Szmatula had a goal and two assists and Kevin Roy (Anaheim Ducks) had a goal and an assist in the victory. Junior goalie Clay Witt made 27 saves to notch his third shutout this season.


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