Two players from the Harvard hockey program will represent the United States in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games, USA Hockey announced at the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic on Monday. Junior forward Ryan Donato received this distinct honor, as well as former Crimson blue-liner Noah Welch ’05.
The NHL’s decision to withhold its players from Olympic competition opened the door for players not traditionally in the selection pool to vie for American roster spots. The 25-man roster unveiled on Monday includes players from European professional leagues, those with AHL-only contracts, and a few NCAA student-athletes.
Donato is one of just four Division-I skaters to make the team, joining Boston University’s Jordan Greenway, Denver’s Troy Terry, and St. Cloud State’s Will Borgen. All but three players on the U.S. roster skated with a college program, with BU and Yale being the most common alma maters.
Donato’s play this season may have tipped the selection scale in his favor. Through 12 games, the Scituate, Mass., native has tallied 20 points (12G, 8A) and owns a +7 rating. Donato, who has inked the score sheet in every game this season, sits atop the nation in goals per game (1.00) and places second in points per game (1.67), behind only Canisius forward Dylan McLaughlin (1.69).
Even as an underclassman, the Boston Bruins prospect was an integral part of the Harvard attack, recording 21 points (13G, 8A) as a freshman and 40 (21G, 19A) the following year. The junior’s performance last season earned him First Team All-Ivy and All-ECAC honors in addition to a spot on the NCAA Tournament’s All-East Region team
While Welch graduated a decade before Donato sported the Crimson sweater, he achieved similar levels of success while in Cambridge. A two-time All-American, the defenseman captained the team in coach Ted Donato’s first year behind the Harvard bench and reached the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons. In 2010, the Brighton, Mass., native was named to the ECAC All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
After graduating, Welch played 75 games for multiple NHL organizations including the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that selected him in the second round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Welch currently plays for Växjö Lakers HC in the Swedish Hockey League.
Donato and Welch are just the two latest members of the Harvard hockey program to represent their respective nations in the Winter Olympics, as 28 Crimson graduates have played, coached, or managed personnel for their countries. This list, of course, includes coach Donato, who laced them up for the Americans in the 1992 Albertville Olympics, just a year after graduating from Harvard.
—Staff writer Spencer R. Morris can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Spencer on Twitter @SMorrisTHC.