Olympic Profile: Ryan Donato
Nation's Goal-Scoring Leader Prepares for Team USA
It's safe to say that Ryan Donato is, in many ways, goal-oriented.
A sociology major at Harvard, Donato last year helped the Crimson achieve many of its goals — winning the Beanpot (Harvard's first since 1993), the ECAC regular season and tournament titles, and reaching the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time since 1994.
And then, of course, there are the goals themselves — plenty of them. Donato has 21 this season, more than any player in college hockey. The Boston native and 2014 second-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins started this season with a 14-game point streak and was named the Hockey Commissioners' Association National Division I Player of the Month for December, after scoring eight goals in four games.
Now, with Monday's double overtime Beanpot loss to Boston University in the rear view mirror, Donato is headed to PyeongChang, South Korea — where he hopes to contribute his goal-scoring touch on the international stage.
"Whatever they need me to," said Donato, of what he hopes to contribute. "There are a lot of guys who can score, a lot of guys who can make plays, and that's what I want to do. Hopefully that's something they expect out of me because I feel like I can fill that role, of creating plays and scoring hopefully."
Donato is one of four American NCAA players selected to participate in this year's Winter Olympics — joining St. Cloud State's Will Borgen, Denver's Troy Terry, and Boston University's Jordan Greenway.
Of the four, Donato is the only second-generation Olympian. His father and current head coach at Harvard, Ted Donato, played in the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, prior to embarking on an NHL career of almost 800 games.
"I've heard a lot of stories about his experiences in the NHL, but those that he had in the Olympics are the most memorable," Ryan said. "Playing on the world's largest venue, he didn't take it for granted, and he expects me not to take it for granted either.
"It's an unbelievable feeling. Growing up as a kid, idolizing USA Hockey, the great US hockey players — Mike Modano, obviously watching my dad play — it's just kind of crazy how things have worked out. It's very exciting, and I'm just very fortunate, happy, very blessed to be able to have the opportunity."
Boston University's Jordan Greenway
St. Cloud State's Will Borgen
Denver's Troy Terry
North Dakota's Ludvig Hoff
Ryan and his father, understandably, navigate a unique relationship dynamic — father-son, as well as coach-player. And there's a fine line within that dichotomy.
"He's a father away from the rink, and a coach at the rink," said Ryan. "And most of the times I see him, it's at the rink."
This is Ted Donato's 14th season as head coach at his alma mater, where he won the national championship in 1989. Under his guidance, the Crimson have reached the NCAA tournament each of the last three years.
At the rink, Ryan doesn't expect to be treated any differently.
"I think my dad's hard on a lot of the guys on our team, but if he's going to yell at somebody, he's not going to be as afraid to make a point by using me," he continued. "I think that at the end of the day, I can either mope about it, or use it as a tool to learn about it — and use his points to improve my play."
Donato met with his professors at Harvard weeks ago, upon learning of his selection to Team USA, to make sure that he would be able to successfully complete his classes this semester. Now, before returning to the Crimson for its ECAC tournament run, Donato has one focus — indeed, one more goal — in mind.
"I'm just making sure I'm healthy," Donato said, "working to make sure I'm at the peak of my performance for when I leave — then get used to the time differences, and make sure I'm ready to play to the best of my abilities as soon as the puck drops."