While NHL players won’t be filling the ranks of the men’s hockey tournament at this winter’s Olympics in PyeongChang, there is still going to be hockey and compelling stories. There’s also going to be plenty of locals skating for Team USA against the rest of the world headlined by Massachusetts native and Bruins prospects Ryan Donato.
The Harvard University forward was one of several American-born hockey players on tap for the official announcement during the Winter Classic at Citi Field, and joined BU's Jordan Greenway, Denver's Troy Terry and longtime NHLer Brian Gionta along with head coach Tony Granato. After the event, the Harvard junior took to Instagram with the moment and said it was “A true honor to be selected to represent Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Can’t wait to wear the Red, White, and Blue!”
The 21-year-old is off to a dominant start this season at Harvard with 12 goals and 20 points in just 12 games for the Crimson, and is looking very close to ready for pro hockey after shining at last summer’s Bruins development camp. It actually wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Donato sign with the Bruins this spring after he finishes up both his Olympic and collegiate duties this spring, but he was putting that choice off when asked about it at development camp over the summer.
“I just want to make sure I’m ready to go. If I ever have a chance to play [in the NHL], I just want to make sure I’m ready,” said Donato, who plays for former Bruins forward Ted Donato at Harvard. “[My dad] has never led me wrong once in my entire career and in my entire life, so I really don’t think I have to worry about what he says. Whatever he says, I take it very seriously and it goes heavily into my consideration.
“Growing up in Boston I’ve always been a Bruins fan, and I’ve been very happy and fortunate to a part of this [organization] and hopefully I can be for a while. Obviously, I had loyalty even before given that I was a fan, but you really feel like you do owe the organization something after they’ve drafted you.”
In addition to Donato, former Bruins forward and Massachusetts native Chris Bourque will be on Team USA as well after a long, distinguished AHL career with NHL Cups of coffee in Pittsburgh, Washington and Boston.
In addition to those two with Bruins ties, Massachusetts will have three other locals on the roster with former UNH standout Bobby Butler, former Harvard defenseman Noah Welch and longtime San Jose Sharks forward John McCarthy all wearing the Stars and Stripes.
The Americans will face Slovenia in its Olympic opener on Feb. 14, and it should be a wide open tournament with all of the NHL players skipping this year’s Olympics in a hotly debated subject between the league’s rank-and-file players and owners. The U.S. disappointingly lost the bronze medal game to Finland in 2014, and got the silver in dramatic fashion losing to Sidney Crosby and Team Canada in Vancouver in 2010.