Selected in the fourth round in 2018 by the Calgary Flames, Demetrios Koumontzis is now going into his third season with the Arizona State University Sun Devils. While his first season in the desert was a resounding success, finishing seventh on the team in scoring as a rookie, his second season was marred by injury and struggles to put the puck in the net. Our team sat down with him to discuss last season, this season, and beyond.
Koumontzis grew up as the second youngest of six brothers. Spending his days swimming and playing paintball when off the ice, he has always been competing against guys bigger and older than him. It helped him develop into the person and player that he is today—one with a heavy compete level who is not afraid to get into the corners against biggest players. “You have to grow from being the younger child,” he said with a laugh.
Last season, he was forced to really put that compete level into practice. Coming off of an excellent season and a great development camp in Calgary where GM Brad Treliving singled him out as one of the most improved players on the ice, Koumontzis started the year off strong but then struggled to get the puck in the net.
“I just got into a slow patch and let some things get into my head,” he said sheepishly. Struggling to stay in the lineup, Koumontzis had to find his game again and the things that made him so successful the season before. With the support of his teammates and coaches Koumontzis started to find some rhythm, working specifically on his two-way game and trying to be more defensively sound.
Wanting to be a player that his teammates and coaches could rely on, Koumontzis worked not only on the on-ice game, but also on his mental sharpness. However just as his game began to come back, he picked up an injury and was out for the remainder of the shortened season.
“I haven’t played a game since January,” said Koumontzis. Eager to get back out onto the ice, he has been training hard over the off-season, spending time at home in Minnesota working out at his local gym and rollerblading lots to keep his skating sharp.
With the season starting this weekend, Koumontzis has been back at Arizona State training on the ice for their first two games on the road in Michigan. Unlike most NCAA teams, ASU is an independent team, meaning it is not part of one of the major conferences. However due to the pandemic, the Sun Devils will playing in the NCAA’s Big-10 Division this season, and will be on the road for every one of their games.
why arizona state?
ASU is a younger program, but for Koumontzis, this was something that excited him. Growing up in Minnesota, the State of Hockey, playing for Edina High School (where 2020 3rd round draft pick Jake Boltmann played), many asked why he was moving to a small team like ASU, but proving people wrong has been something that he wants to do. “I want to be on the first team that wins the National Championship here,” he said. Being able to build something in the desert is special for him, and something that he and his teammates will look back on.
ASU was also one of the first teams to scout him, and believed in him through his high school career. Although a number of other schools came calling later on when he started to have more success, Koumontzis points to the renewed commitment of the team as a big reason he signed in the desert.
A smaller player, being able to prove people wrong has always been important to him. In his first season, his team qualified for the Championship, one of just 16 teams across the country to do so. Although they did bow out in their first game, getting back there is the goal for this season. Two years older now, Koumontzis wants to be a leader on the team, someone who can help them take that next step and be a leader on and off the ice.
What’s next for Koumontzis?
With a difficult season playing on the road this year, the challenges of being a leader will be different without the support of the hometown crowd, but Koumontzis believes that he can be an impact player. “I want to be a plus player, contribute all over the ice, and do the little things right.”
Is he looking forward to playing in the Flames’ system? Koumontzis is trying to take it one game at a time, but is obviously excited about the prospect. ” I want to play for the team that believed in me and drafted me,” he said. Like ASU believed in him in high school, he wants the opportunity to show the Flames exactly why they nabbed him 108th overall.
A smaller guy, Koumontzis looks up to players like Andrew Mangiapane and Bryan Rust as the type of player that he wants to be. “A guy who can eat pucks, contribute offensively, not afraid to get into the corners, someone who can be relied on in all situations.” That’s the type of player that he aspires to be.
With the season all starting on the 14th and 15th against Michigan, here is hoping for a big third year from Koumontzis.