Thatcher Demko will play his first game of the season for Canucks tonight

Jan 18 2019, 7:09 pm

The goalie of the future is now the goalie of the present.

Thatcher Demko will be between the pipes for the Vancouver Canucks tonight when they take on the Buffalo Sabres at Rogers Arena. The 23-year-old is making his long awaited first start of the season, after being called up from the Utica Comets two weeks ago.

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Demko has been putting work in with Canucks goalie coach Ian Clark, while watching the last four games as Jacob Markstrom’s backup.

A second-round pick by the Canucks in 2014, Demko has just one game of NHL experience, winning in his debut performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 31 last season.

The Canucks are hopeful that he will become their starting goalie one day, though fans will likely need to be patient. A standout during his NCAA days at Boston College, it took time for Demko to transition into a No. 1 netminder in Utica, finishing his pro rookie season with a .907 save percentage. He took a big step last season with an undermanned Utica squad, posting an impressive .922 save percentage in 46 games.

But moving from AHL shooters to NHL shooters is another step.

A concussion in training camp got Demko off to a slow start this season, but the Canucks believe he’s ready.

After an injury scare against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, Bo Horvat has confirmed he will play. Elias Pettersson is close to a return, but will sit out a fifth-straight game.

The Canucks are 1-0-2 after the first three games of this six-game homestand. They play Buffalo, Detroit, and Carolina before next week’s All-Star break. The Sabres have just three wins in their last 10 games, but are coming off a win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

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