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Eagles in the NHL

Since the end of last season, men’s hockey has witnessed much turnover, with 80% of the team now comprised of underclassmen, and not a single junior listed on the roster. If you’ve wondered where your old favorites are today, look no further.

We’ve got the latest on the 2015-16 Eagles that left The Heights after last season to pursue careers in the National Hockey League.

Thatcher Demko '17: Before heading to the pros, BC’s infamous wall in front of the twine had a stellar junior year on The Heights, winning the Mike Richter Award for most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men’s ice hockey. He also was a finalist in Boston College’s 18th Hobey Baker Award—the honor given to the best player in college hockey. Demko played and started in 39 games, went 27-8-4, recorded a 1.88 goal average, and locked down a .935 save percentage. He posted 10 shutouts to set the school record for a single season and finished with 13 total career shutouts, two shy of the BC career record. His 10 shutouts were tied for second most in college hockey history. Demko also notched six shutouts in seven games, marking only the second occurrence in college hockey history. He registered the nation’s fifth best save percentage (.935) and winning percentage (.744).

The San Diego native signed a three-year entry level contract with the Vancouver Canucks on April 20, 2016. Demko was subsequently sent to their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets; he would record his first professional win on November 12, 2016, a 3–2 overtime victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack. Demko was recalled on December 10 but he was reassigned to Utica on December 13 without playing a game. On March 4, 2017, Demko earned his first professional shutout, defeating the Albany Devils by a score of 3–0. He is expected to play at least one more year with Utica.

Zach Sanford '18: Sanford played in all 41 games his sophomore year at BC and recorded 13 goals, a team best 26 assists, and +27 plus/minus before turning pro. He also had an assist on Alex Tuch’s game-winning goal in the Beanpot championship. Sanford began his professional career on July 11, 2016, signing a three-year entry level contract with the Washington Capitals. Sanford initially made the Capitals roster and debuted on October 13, 2016 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was sent down to the AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, after 20 games with no goals. He was recalled on February 10. With the Bears, Sanford had nine goals and five assists in 24 games. He scored his first NHL goal on February 11, 2017 against the Anaheim Ducks, a game winner.

“Zach’s played pretty well down there, and I think with any young player, we have real high expectations for him,” Coach Barry Trotz said to the Washington Post.

Sanford added, “I think I’ve always been pretty good at staying in the moment. There’s a team down there looking to make a playoff run, too. If I can be a part of both runs and maybe help both teams, I think that would maybe be the best case.” On February 27, 2017, Sanford was traded to the St. Louis Blues, with whom he presently resides.

Steve Santini '17: Santini signed a three-year entry level contract with the New Jersey Devils on April 9, 2016 and debuted against the Toronto Maple Leaves later that night. In his junior year season at Boston College, Santini served as Alternate Captain and was one of only six skaters to play in all 41 games. He registered 19 points, assisting Alex Tuch’s game-winning overtime goal against BU in the Beanpot Championship. Santini was tabbed as Hockey East’s “Best Defensive Defenseman” and finished the season with +24 plus/minus rating.

Even though he made the Devils out of training camp, he was quickly sent down to the AHL for more seasoning. "I learned to raise my level of competitiveness, raise my intensity," said Santini when he rejoined the Devils on January 2 of this year. "I learned some details that maybe you get away with in junior and college that you can't get away with at the pro level.” In the 2016-17 season, Santini has played in 31 games and has had two goals, five assists, and a -3 plus/minus rating.

Alex Tuch '18: Tuch played in 40 games his sophomore year at BC, recording 18 goals, 16 assists, and a +23 plus/minus rating. He scored the game winning goal in the 2016 Beanpot championship game. The then sophomore signed a three-year entry level contract with the Minnesota Wild on April 13, 2016, and he played with the AHL affiliate before making his NHL debut on February 4, 2017. He played in six games and recorded a -3 plus/minus before being sent back down to the AHL Iowa Wild affiliate on February 9.

"I thought it was OK," Wild Coach Bruce Boudreau told the Star Tribune. "He had some chances to score. He's a big, strong guy. There's things he's going to have to learn about this league, but everybody that's ever [come] into this league had to learn those things...”

Tuch has recorded 22 points (11-11) in 34 games during his rookie season with Iowa.

Miles Wood '19: The 20-year old then BC freshman also signed a contract with the Devils on the same day, and even drove down to New Jersey with Santini to play in his first NHL game that night. At BC, Wood had an impressive freshman year, scoring the first goal of the season and totaling 10 goals and 15 assists. Like Santini, Wood initially made the Devils but was sent down to the AHL before returning on November 29, 2016. Wood believes the AHL greatly improved his game.

About his prior game, Wood commented, “I was so excited, skating 100 mph out there every shift, not knowing what to do, just skating.”

His AHL coach, Rick Kowalsky, said, "The raw athletic ability is there. You don't have to know much about hockey to know his speed is at an NHL level.” Kowalsky told NJ Advance Media, "For him, I think it was learning how to play a little more without the puck and making reads in the defensive zone.”

Wood has played in 48 games and has scored eight goals and eight assists. Both Wood and Santini have become important members of the Devil’s team as well as close friends—they are bunkmates for road games and are said to often hang out.

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