As much as Ted Donato enjoyed watching his son Ryan compete in his first Olympics on television, it’s even better to see it in person.
The elder Donato took advantage of a break in the college hockey season to make a quick trip over here to see his son starring on the sport’s biggest stage. And as he’s done throughout the tournament, the 21-year-old Harvard University junior didn’t disappoint his father.
“I saw some videos in between periods of him celebrating. I’ve never him smile like that before so it was good to see that,” Donato said after his two-goal performance against Slovakia in a 5-1 qualification game victory.
The offensive output matched his father, who also had four goals to lead Team USA at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. The youngster was unaware of that until he was reminded numerous times during his postgame interviews.
“I didn’t know that before, but it feels good,” said the younger Donato, who matched his dad’s mark in half the number of games.
For dad, who led the Crimson to a weekend sweep of seventh-ranked Clarkson, he didn’t think twice about making the 15-hour flight to watch his son on Olympic ice.
“I’m just so happy to have the opportunity to come watch him play,” said Donato, who is in his 14th season at Harvard after a 14-year NHL career. “The Olympic Games is really the pinnacle for USA Hockey and it should be the pinnacle for every hockey player born in the USA. So for Ryan to get a chance to do this and to be able to watch it with my wife and family I really feel blessed.”
Earlier in the week the pair connected via long distance where dad put on his coaching cap to offer a little advice on how to beat Olympic-caliber goaltenders.
“I’m just trying to keep his confidence up and make sure he’s enjoying it,” dad said. “I told him it’s my job to tell him the things that he doesn’t want to hear every once in a while.”
So far Donato and his fellow collegians have been the toast of the tournament, both for their play on the ice and the ease with which they have fit in off the ice with their more seasoned teammates. And they are big factors in why this team is moving on to the quarterfinals tomorrow.
“Prior to the tournament we let everybody know who they were going to be playing with and what their roles were going to be so they knew what they were walking into,” said head coach Tony Granato.
“I think the other players were like ‘holy cow, they’re playing with [Mark Arcobello], so they must be pretty skilled and talented.’ Obviously they’ve been able to back that up and show their teammates that they’re a pretty big part of this team.”