TAMPA — Alex Killorn remembers seeing Ryan Donato come to watch Harvard hockey practices like it was yesterday. Donato’s father, Ted, was the head coach for the Crimson when Killorn graduated from there in 2012.
At the time, Ryan Donato was at Dexter Southfield School in Brookline, Massachusetts. Killorn said Donato would come out to practices and on Sundays would skate in-between drills.
And Donato always took notice of Killorn.
“He was somebody I watched when I was a kid,” he said. “He was always very nice to me, so I think tonight will be special.”
Donato, a “rink rat,” said he spent a good bit of time at the rink, usually every opportunity he had when he wasn’t at school.
Killorn never forgot about Donato, either, often keeping tabs on him while he was at Harvard and making his move into the NHL.
“I was really excited for him when he made the step last year to play for Boston,” Killorn said. “Coming out of college, it’s always really difficult to jump in, especially on a team where they jump right into the playoffs.”
Killorn says every time the two play against one another, it’s a fun time.
“There’s always a certain pride that comes with that," Killorn said. "We all came from the same place.”
Killorn said at the time he joined the Lightning in 2012 (upon his graduation) there were only two other Harvard alums in the league, but they were older. Now, there’s an influx of Harvard players in the league that he said have made “a pretty big impact.”
“It’s exciting,” Killorn said.
And Donato agrees.
“It’s awesome to see,” he said. “It just goes to show how much the program is turning.”
Donato, not officially a Harvard graduate, plans on finishing up his degree program this summer when he’s able to finish his last four classes.
“I’m on my way,” he chuckled.
Contact Mari Faiello at [email protected]. Follow @faiello_mari.