By Dylan Botelho, Staff Writer
Fresh off a ECAC semifinals overtime loss to Clarkson 5-4 on Friday night, Harvard’s star forward Ryan Donato found himself available and poised for a second playoff run, this time though with the Boston Bruins.
Donato signed a two-year entry level contract only two days after his NCAA career with Harvard ended. He finished his junior season leading Harvard with 26 goals and 43 points in only 29 games and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the NCAA’s player of the year. He also was tied for the lead with five goals in five games during the 2018 Winter Olympics and led Team USA with six total points.
The 2014 second-round draft pick is from Scituate, just outside of Boston and the son of former Bruin and current Harvard coach Ted Donato.
In front of his home crowd and family, Donato was penciled in for second-line duty after the slew of injuries that the Bruins have recently faced.
He had high expectations in his first career start but no one could have expected this. Only a day after signing his NHL contract, Donato had a goal and two assists against the Columbus Blue Jackets in an eventual 5-4 overtime loss for the second place Bruins.
Donato’s one-time slap-shot off a pin-point pass from defenseman Torey Krug at 14:19 of the second period put the Bruins on the board for the first time, tying the game 1-1.
He later then recorded his first career assist on a power play goal by Riley Nash later in the period, only to add a second assist under his belt on David Krejci’s third-period goal that tied the game 4-4 immediately after the Blue Jackets had taken the lead.
Donato finished with six shots on goal for the night and played 19:40, behind only Brad Marchand and Riley Nash among Bruins forwards.
Being an NHL-star doesn’t mean he can avoid his school work, though. Just like all of us, Donato has his class to attend and papers to write. I mean, he’s from Harvard, not really a place where you can just skate by (no pun intended) without doing your work. Majoring in sociology, Donato plans to finish his classes this semester and eventually earn his degree in between his new commitments.
When the Bruins traveled to St. Louis on Tuesday, Donato remained in Boston, missing team practice in the process. Why you ask? He had prior “class commitment” according to head coach Bruce Cassidy.
Yes, that’s right, a day after scoring a goal in his NHL debut, Donato still woke up the next morning just like all of us – for a brutal 8 a.m.
Most of us can barely communicate after long days of class and homework, never mind preforming – no dominating – for one of the best teams in the NHL during the playoff push.
If his first game is any sign of things to come, Bruins fans are in for a treat for years and years to come. Only a few years removed from what seemed like more dark times for the franchise, the Bruins are back on top of the NHL world and it’s thanks to young guys like Ryan Donato.