Other than the clean-shaven baby face that makes him look even younger than his 21 years of age, Ryan Donato showed no signs of being an out-of-place youngster in his NHL debut Monday night.
The Boston Bruins forward scored his first goal and added a pair of assists and was one of the best B’s on the ice in Boston’s eventual overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He looked like he belonged, and he looked at ease and calm while realizing a childhood dream. On the inside, however, that was far from the case … at least before the puck dropped.
“During warmups actually, I was kind of taken away,” Donato told reporters after the game. “It kind of felt like a dream and I really didn’t even get that warmed up because I was too focused on everything else and just kind of the whole situation. At the end of the day, it was an unbelievable experience and it was a blessing tonight.”
The Scituate, Mass., native and Harvard product had a gaggle of family and friends in attendance, including his father, former B’s forward Ted Donato. Once the game began, however, Donato said he had to actively try to stay focused.
And if that didn’t work, the level of play around him sped up the onboarding process.
“It’s so much faster than what I’ve ever seen,” he said. “But at the end of the day it’s something that you can get used to and when you’re playing with great players like that it’s something that will come along fast as well.”