Following success as a player at the collegiate, professional and international levels, Ted Donato has piled up a long list of accomplishments in 15 years as head coach at his alma mater at the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign. The former Crimson captain has guided Harvard to four 20-win seasons, captured ECAC Hockey and Ivy League championships, claimed six NCAA tournament berths, a Frozen Four appearance, led his team to six league championship games and five straight appearances at ECAC Hockey championship weekend, coached 10 All-Americans and 12 National Hockey Leaguers and set a new standard for wins by a Harvard coach in his first three seasons.
The owner of a 238-211-55 career record, Donato accumulated 56 victories in his first three years. He is the third Harvard coach to total 50 wins in his first three seasons, joining Bill Cleary ’56 (51 wins), who coached Donato at Harvard, and Ronn Tomassoni (50). In 2016-17, Donato became the third Harvard men's hockey coach to eclipse 200 victories, joining Ralph "Cooney" Weiland (315) and William J. Cleary, Jr. (324).
Donato, who won an NCAA championship as a Crimson player, played in the Olympics and enjoyed a 13-year NHL career, was introduced as the Robert D. Ziff Head Coach of Harvard Men's Ice Hockey July 2, 2004.
Harvard earned its 25th NCAA Tournament bid (eighth among all Division I programs) and made its fifth consecutive trip to Lake Placid and the ECAC semifinals in 2018-19, becoming just the third team in the last decade to make five straight appearances at the league's championship weekend. Adam Fox was a First Team All-American and the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year, as well as a Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist (the fourth Hobey Baker top-3 selection in the last five seasons for Harvard). In 2017-18, Harvard returned to Lake Placid, Adam Fox and Ryan Donato earned All-America honors, with Donato earning ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick laurels. Harvard also led ECAC Hockey with 30 league All-Academic selections.
The 2016-17 season proved to be a banner year for the Crimson. Harvard captured the Beanpot, Ivy League, ECAC regular season and championship titles and reached the NCAA Frozen Four. Harvard also posted 28 victories, the most since the 1989 national championship season. The Crimson reached many of those milestones scoring 4.06 goals per game, the second-highest total in the nation. His success led to a runner-up finish in the voting for the Spencer Penrose Award given to the CCM/AHCA Men’s Hockey Division I Coach of the Year and Ivy League Coach of the Year honors. Donato's student-athletes also accumulated a plethora of end-of-year honors. Freshman defenseman Adam Fox and senior forward Alexander Kerfoot were tabbed All-America, with Fox also earning ECAC Hockey and Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. The Crimson were also accomplished in the classroom with 25 players earning ECAC Academic Team spots and Thomas Aiken earning the Elite 90 Award as the student-athlete with the top GPA at the Frozen Four.
For the second year in a row, the Crimson played in the ECAC Hockey Tournament championship game and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Harvard's 2015-16 team posted a 19-11-4 record, earned tournament titles at the Shillelagh (Notre Dame) and Mariucci (Minnesota) during the regular season. Donato also led a number of his players to individual accolades. Jimmy Vesey collected the program's fourth Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey, to go with first team All-America honors and the Walter Brown Award. Kyle Criscuolo, the ECAC Student-Athlete of the Year once again, garnered All-ECAC and Ivy League honors, as did linemate Alexander Kerfoot. Desmond Bergin and Merrick Madsen each picked up All-Ivy nods.
The 2014-15 season was a return to prominence for the Crimson, as Donato led Harvard to the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time in program history after capturing the school's ninth ECAC Tournament title. Donato coached six All-Ivy League selections and three ECAC Hockey honorees, including the conference Player of the Year and Hobey Hat Trick finalist, Jimmy Vesey. Junior co-captain Kyle Criscuolo also had a breakout year under Donato's tutelage, finishing second on the team in points, while garnering the program's first ECAC Student-Athlete of the Year award.
Donato, a 1991 graduate, is just Harvard's sixth head coach since 1950. He is the eighth Harvard alum to serve as the program's head coach. The appointment is Donato's first coaching position.
He did not look like a rookie coach in his debut season behind the bench in 2004-05, leading the Crimson to a 21-10-3 record, runner-up finishes in the ECACHL regular season and tournament and an NCAA tournament appearance. Donato's 2005-06 Harvard squad followed with another 21-win season, captured the ECACHL and Ivy League championships and made another NCAA appearance. Donato is the only head coach to take Harvard to the NCAA tournament in each of his first two years.
Donato's teams have shown the tendency to come through in the clutch that was a trademark of his playing career. They have gone 28-6-5 in February home games. The 2007-08 Crimson closed the year on a 10-3-1 run, reaching the finals of the Beanpot and league playoffs. Harvard capped the 2008-09 regular season with a 4-0-2 spurt and then won seven of its final 10 games in 2010-11, winning a road playoff series for the second straight year.
Defenseman Noah Welch ’05, goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris ’05, defenseman Danny Biega '13, forward Alex Killorn '12 and forward Jimmy Vesey '16 have all earned All-America status under Donato. Welch, Biega and Killorn went on to skate in the NHL, as did forwards Tom Cavanagh ’05 and Louis Leblanc and defensemen Dylan Reese ’07 and Alex Biega '10.
As an undergraduate, Donato etched his name alongside Harvard's all-time greats. He finished his career 11th on the Crimson's career scoring chart (50 goals, 94 assists, 144 points) and remains 12th in that category. He earned All-ECAC and All-Ivy League accolades while serving as the 95th captain of Harvard hockey in his 1990-91 senior season.
Donato was named Most Outstanding Player of the 1989 NCAA Frozen Four, where Harvard downed Minnesota, 4-3, in overtime in the NCAA championship game. That contest, held in the Gophers' backyard (St. Paul, Minn.), saw Donato net a pair of goals, one that tied the game at 1-1 midway through the second period and another that gave the Crimson a 3-2 lead with seven minutes to go. Donato scored three goals and added a pair of assists in the tournament.
He earned the Donald Angier Hockey Trophy as the team's most improved player in 1989 and accepted the Ralph "Cooney" Weiland Award for spirit and devotion to Harvard hockey in 1991.
A native of nearby Dedham, Mass., Donato was a member of seven United States national teams, including the 1992 Olympic team. He tied for the team lead in scoring with four goals and three assists in eight games in the Olympics and posted 11 goals and 22 assists in the pre-Games schedule. He also played in the World Championships in 1997 (4-2-6 in 8 GP), 1999 (2-6-8 in 8 GP) and 2002 (1-3-4 in 7 GP) and in the 1988 World Junior Championship (3-2-5 in 7 GP).
Donato was selected by the Boston Bruins in the fifth round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft (98th overall), and he signed with his hometown club in March 1992 following the Olympic Games. His 13-year pro career included stops in New York (with the Rangers and Islanders), Los Angeles, Ottawa, Anaheim and St. Louis. He returned to the Bruins as a free agent in July 2003.
His NHL career spanned 796 games, in which he scored 150 goals with 197 assists for 347 points. Donato had eight goals, 18 assists and 26 points in 58 career Stanley Cup playoff games. He scored 25 goals in 1996-97, becoming the first U.S.-born player to lead the Bruins in goals in a season.
Donato graduated from Catholic Memorial School as its all-time leading scorer. The son of Michael and Mary Donato, Ted and his three brothers were all active in athletics. Brother Michael played baseball at Princeton; Chris played hockey, baseball and football at Williams; and Dan played hockey and baseball at Boston University. Their sister, Paula, is a plastics engineer.
Donato is a resident of Scituate, Mass., with his wife, Jeannine, and their four children: Ryan, Jack, Nolan and Madelyn.