Now in his fourth and final year at Yale University in Connecticut, St. Albert blueliner Ryan Donald faces some important questions after this season.
Should he try and play in the East Coast Hockey League or the American Hockey League or take a deeper look into the job market and find a use for his political science degree?
“I haven’t really given it a whole lot of thought, to be honest. I was thinking something along the lines of municipal government stuff but I’m kind of hoping the hockey thing will work out for a few years before I hit the job market,” Donald said. “I’m just focused on where we are now [with four games left in the season].”
As his time eventually winds down, the 23-year-old knows it will be a bittersweet ending to what has been an impressive ride so far for the captain of the Yale Bulldogs.
“Getting down to the last couple games here, it’s a bit disappointing. You never know when your last game is going to be or when your season is done but it’s exciting too, with dreams of going on to bigger and better places,” Donald said. “Hopefully we can keep playing. They say they notice players that are on winning teams so hopefully we can keep winning for a while and better things can come for everybody.”
From his days in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders and Camrose Kodiaks, the former lacrosse standout has made a lot of friends along the way but hopes his hockey future is bright as the Bulldogs continue making names for themselves.
“My advisor’s been doing a good job of promoting what I can bring to teams at the next level, whether it’s the AHL or East Coast. He’s in touch with some NHL teams about whether I can play in their minor teams. Hopefully I’ll be playing here though for another couple months so I’m not worrying about that yet,” said Donald, who played midget AAA with the Maple Leaf Athletic Club.
The six-foot-three and 220-pound Donald has been a steady presence on the Bulldogs’ back end in the Eastern College Athletic Conference with two goals and five assists in 25 games, along with a team-high 40 minutes in penalties. The Bulldogs currently sit atop the conference standings with the Cornell Big Red at 12-4-2, thanks to a 2-1 overtime win last weekend.
“It was a great game. Obviously first place was on the line in the ECAC. I thought we played well, controlled the majority of the play in the second, third and overtime,” said Donald, who had two assists in a 5-0 win over Cornell in the ECAC tournament title game last year. “They had some great goaltending and they’re known as a defensive team so we knew it was a matter of time as we kept the pressure on them. It took overtime but it happened.”
The Bulldogs face St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend in their last two home games of the season before playing two away tilts against Princeton and Quinnipiac.
Yale has rattled off four straight wins and Donald hopes his team can keep that momentum going.
“We lost to St. Lawrence earlier so that will be a tough test. We have a reason to come out strong against them. As for Clarkson, they always have a good team even if they’re not doing well this year, but we can’t let that influence how we play. We have to be at our best both nights,” he said.
“We need to keep playing the way we have. We’re finding our groove. That’s important heading into playoffs because that’s when you want to be playing your best. Hopefully we can keep that up and keep playing strong.”