B's prospect Donato leading strong local contingent on Team USA


B's prospect Donato leading strong local contingent on Team USA

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.


B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

B's not anticipating any Game 6 availability issues with Bergeron

BOSTON – It looks like Patrice Bergeron made it through his Game 5 return without any pressing issues or lingering problems that should limit his availability for the last couple of potential games in the best-of-seven series with the Maple Leafs.

Bergeron topped 20 minutes of ice time in the 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Saturday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, and had six shots on net, 10 shot attempts, three hits and won 16-of-25 face-offs while being held without any points. There were times where No. 37 looked like he was playing through a little bit of pain, but the numbers certainly don’t back that up as he was still very strong even if he was less than 100 percent. 

“I won’t project past Game 6. He made it through [the Game 5 loss] healthy and he finished the game,” said Bruce Cassidy on Saturday night following Game 5. “You always want to see how they are in the morning. I don’t anticipate there will be any issues going into Game 6. Of course, that could change, but that’s the way it is right now.”

Bruce Cassidy indicated after Saturday night’s loss that Bergeron, who has five assists and a plus-3 rating in four games vs. the Leafs, finished the game without issue, and further said at Sunday’s chat with the media that he wasn’t expecting health issues would cause any lineup changes for Monday night’s very important Game 6 in Toronto. Bergeron was also spotted at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon and certainly looked no worse for the wear, so the B’s aren’t bracing for any last minute scratches in a heavy duty playoff game on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. 

“We’ll reassess on [Monday] morning when guys go back on the ice health-wise,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes they feel good today and then they get on the ice…I don’t anticipate much going on health-wise, but we went up to Toronto [earlier this week] and one game Bergeron didn’t play and then Grzelcyk in another one. So [a change in the lineup] could happen.” 

That would indicate Bergeron came through Saturday night’s heavy workload without any further issues, and that perhaps he’s over the hump with whatever upper-body injury caused him to miss a game in the middle of the series. That’s a great sign with the Black and Gold in serious need of all hands on deck for another chance to eliminate the Maple Leafs on Monday night in Toronto.


Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kadri's presence makes difference for Leafs in Game 5

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spring appears to finally be arriving in Boston.


*Some solid war stories from the NHL penalty box compiled by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt at Sports Illustrated.


*Keeping an eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and rookie D-man Mikhail Sergachev is enjoying a strong playoff series for the Bolts as they advanced past the New Jersey Devils this weekend.


*Nazem Kadri definitely helped make a difference for the Maple Leafs in Game 5 at the Garden, and Toronto is going to need more of that if they’re going to force a Game 7.


*The Philadelphia Flyers are finally ratcheting up some drama with the Penguins in their first-round series.


*Good memories from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher out in Vegas as he talks about Gil Santos at the time of the New England sports legend’s passing this week.


*For something completely different: When you’re writing think pieces about Adam Sandler, it may be time to reevaluate things.