Providence, RI - Thatcher Demko showed why he's expected to be the first North American goaltender selected in the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday night at a sold-out Schnider Arena. The freshman from San Diego, Calif. made 30 saves for his first collegiate shutout, as the Eagles defeated Providence, 2-0.
Demko won the goaltending battle between two of the top American-born goaltending prospects, outdueling Providence sophomore Jon Gillies who was also on top of his game.
"I thought Thatcher played extremely well in goal for us. He's just getting better and better as he gets more exposed, more games and gains experience," said Jerry York. "For an 18 year old player he's a really special player. I thought he was outstanding tonight," added the coach.
"He's kind of a mature kid. He played at the NTDP level. He's gone from San Diego to Boston for school. He's got a lot of maturity for a young kid," said York.
Although Gillies came out on the wrong side of the box score his play was vastly better than it has been over the past couple months due to a lingering lower body ailment. The Calgary Flames prospect made 28 saves.
"He played a pretty good game tonight. He had a good week of practice and it showed in the game," said Providence coach Nate Leaman.
The game was physical and tight checking with neither team getting a lot of sustained pressure or scoring opportunities.
"It was a hard game to play. There was a lot of physical contact, a lot of scrums," described York.
"It was a pretty even game. We competed hard. We came back with a good effort and got back to playing our style of hockey," said Leaman.
The intensity and physicality of the game was reminiscent of the type of play seen around the league once the tournament becomes within reach.
"It did kind of have a playoff atmosphere with it being 1-0 through two periods. Of course the rink improvements are significant. The crowd came out to support the Friars pretty well. It was a good atmosphere to play in," explained York.
Brendan Silk finally broke the deadlock at the 9:15 mark of the second period when the sophomore picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in on Gillies two-on-one with Ryan Fitzgerald. Silk looked off Fitzgerald before snapping a up high above the glove of Gillies.
"We got two big goals from Silky in the [second] period and Johnny Gaudreau with the game buster late in the third period," said York.
Johnny Gaudreau iced the game and extended his career-best point streak to 21 games with 5:59 to play in the third period. The Hobey Baker favorite cut in towards the middle as he was driving down the right side and his shot against the grain beat Gillies just below the glove.
Boston College (19-4-3) will face Boston University in the Beanpot on Monday night while Providence (15-7-5) is off until taking on UConn Feb. 11.
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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.