PITTSBURGH — It’s not easy following in the footsteps of a former National Hockey League star.
Just ask Ryan Donato, son of Ted Donato, who played for eight different NHL teams, most notably the Boston Bruins. Ryan’s uncle, Dan Donato, who played college hockey at Boston University and professional baseball with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, is also his hockey coach at Dexter Southfield, a Massachusetts prep school.
Between his father and three uncles — all collegiate sports standouts — there’s a lot of tough love to go around. But Ryan Donato wouldn’t have it any other way.
Donato participated in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game last Thursday at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. He was one of five players in the game, which showcases the top 40 American-born players eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, who have NHL ties within their family.
They are Donato; Ryan MacInnis, son of Al MacInnis; Ryan Mantha, nephew of Moe Mantha; Jack Ramsey, son of Mike Ramsey; and Nolan Stevens, son of John Stevens.
“[My dad and uncles are] always on top of me academically, hockey-wise,” Donato said. “I have a lot of family history with hockey. There’s a lot of people watching me and everybody’s watching me when I’m home, and everywhere, so there’s really no time to slack off.”
Donato was a late addition to the game, replacing Portland Winterhawks (WHL) forward Dominic Turgeon, who missed with a lower-body injury. Donato, rated as a “B” skater by NHL Central Scouting Services, said he felt he had a lot to prove in front of more than 100 NHL scouts in attendance.
“I want to be able to prove myself since I’m a prep school player, that I’m not going to be treated any different than any of the OHL or [Quebec Major Junior Hockey League] guys,” Donato said. “I don’t want to be thought of as the guy who does good in prep school, but can he do good against great guys?”
Donato not only tallied two assists in his team’s 5-2 victory but also caught the eye of coach Joe Mullen.
“He was just a solid player throughout the whole game,” said Mullen, a Hall of Famer and three-time Stanley Cup champion who became the first American to score 500 goals.
“I thought his line really chipped in and got things going late in the game and he seemed to take the lead on that.”
Ryan MacInnis is the son of Al MacInnis, a Hall of Fame defenseman who spent 23 years with the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues. Al MacInnis was known for his booming slap shot, which is regarded as one of the best in league history.
Ryan MacInnis is making his name up front as opposed to the blue line. MacInnis, rated as a “B” skater by NHL Central Scouting Services, is a center for the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers and admittedly doesn’t carry the same cannonading slap shot as his father just yet.
“It’s not as good, but I’m trying to get better at it,” Ryan MacInnis said.
That’s OK. The lanky, 6-foot-3, 185-pound MacInnis has a bright future as a forward, his smooth skating coupling with exceptional vision and, not surprisingly, a high defensive awareness. Ryan MacInnis credited his father for his development.
“He has helped me a lot,” Ryan MacInnis said. “He knows a lot about the game, so he helped me with basically everything.”
Blake Clarke, an OHL standout with North Bay Battalion, has played with MacInnis since the two were 7, and the long-time friends received a chance to play on the same line during the All-American Prospects Game.
“I’d say the one thing that stands out to me is his vision,” Clarke said. “He’s a good playmaker, and I think, as a center, that’s what you look for. You want a 6-foot-4 center who is good defensively, can skate, and pass. It’s pretty rare.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.