WILMINGTON – Having just finished his freshman year at Harvard, you wouldn’t think of Ryan Donato as a veteran by any means. But when it comes to the Bruins Development Camp, he certainly is.
“I think the coaches and the staff expect me to have a little bit of a different role,” said Donato. “I think obviously it’s my third year and there’s guys that are coming in here for their first year not really knowing what to expect. I think my job is to show my skills and I want to show the coaches and be myself on the ice.”
Donato finished his first year at Harvard with 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points in 35 games and received the George Percy Award as Harvard's top freshman player. He played under the guidance of his father, Head Coach Ted Donato, who played for the Crimson along with the Bruins and six other teams for a combined 796 NHL games.
Going into next season, the Scituate, Mass., native wants to practice the leadership skills he uses at Development Camp with his Harvard teammates.
“I think one thing is just being more of a team player and just being more of an important role on the team,” said Donato. “Obviously we had such great guys, Jimmy Vesey, Kyle Criscuolo… And I think this year I’m going to try to take more of a leadership role and do what I can to lead the team by example, and be the guy that the other teams worry about during the other games and we’ll see how it goes. We have a lot of great players next year and I’m just excited to get going.”
But for now, he’s just taking in all that the summer and Development Camp have to offer him.
“When you can be on the ice with such great players it’s a fun time and the coaching staff is unbelievable,” said Donato. “And I think only in that short amount of time that we were on the ice, the coaching staff has so many things that I could do and change in my game that will benefit me, and those are the things that I’ll work on.”
Another positive to the summertime is that the 6-foot-1, 181-pound forward can enjoy spending time with his fellow Boston area Bruins prospects, such as Matt Grzelcyk, Ryan Fitzgerald and Charlie McAvoy.
“The BC-BU rivalry is a pretty tough one, and obviously Harvard is in the mix with the Beanpot, but these guys are great guys,” said Donato. “These are guys I’ve known for a long time outside of college and they’re great guys and we have a great time off the ice.”
Boston Bruins Executive Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson was impressed by Donato’s strong year both at Harvard and the 2016 World Junior Championships, where he won a bronze medal with the U.S. World Junior Team.
“I thought the US World Junior team made a great choice in adding him to their group and he along with [Anders] Bjork and others now that we have on our club including [Charlie] McAvoy had outstanding World Junior Tournaments,” said Ferguson. “Ryan had a real strong year at Harvard. It’s clear he’s gotten stronger and faster and his hands and his wrist shot are outstanding. His vision and his hockey sense are excellent. He has it in his bloodlines obviously and he’s done good things with what he has.”
The 2016 Boston Bruins Development Camp was presented by AT&T.