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PRINCETON, N.J.--It didn't take long for Ted Donato to reestablish his role on the Harvard men's hockey team.
The junior forward, who returned to action last night against Princeton after sitting out two months with a broken collarbone, has always been known for his coolness in pressure situations. In his first game back last night, Donato led a Crimson resurgence just when it appeared Harvard was going to blow the game, and then later fed a game-winning miracle assist to John Weisbrod with two seconds left in overtime.
"Teddy's got a lot of poise," Harvard Coach Bill Cleary said. "He's a real game-winner. The closer the game, the better."
Recognizing Donato's poise, Cleary did not hesitate to break up his normal lines in the final moments of a 4-4 game. With 25 seconds left, Cleary put the normal third-liner Donato on the ice with second-liners Weisbrod and Peter Ciavaglia.
"When people are in a groove, Coach Cleary gives them a shot," Donato said. "He saw I wanted to be out there at the end and the coach made the decision to go with experience."
It wasn't the first time in his career that Donato delivered. Against Rensselaer and Boston College last season, the then-sophomore forward also tallied last-minute points to lead his team to victory.
But last-second heroics are not the only thing Donato has in his bag of tricks. With his return, Donato joins freshmen Ted Drury and Matt Mallgrave on the third line, giving Harvard a tremendous depth advantage, with three lines that can consistently score goals against most ECAC opponents.
"We complement each other well," Drury said. "We keep the puck working in the offensive end."
Drury fed Donato an assist in the second period last night with Harvard trailing, 3-1, fueling a Crimson come-back just as the game appeared to he slipping away. In every game which Donato has played this season, he has appeared on Drury's line and the tandem seems to be effective--the junior has tallied three goals and three assists in five games.
In addition to being an offensive powerhouse, Donato also gives the Crimson strong checking and an ability to steal the puck. Part of the reason why Cleary put last-year's NCAA Tournament MVP in at the end of the game was to aid the team on defense.
"We were running around like chickens with their heads cut off," Cleary said. "Defensively, Ted settles us down."
Finally, Donato brings what Cleary calls an "umph" to the Harvard team. With the Beanpot and crucial ECAC contests against Cornell and Clarkson in the next week, his return could not have come at a more critical time.
"Ted makes things happen all over the ice," Drury said.
And if the Crimson are going to make a strong bid for an NCAA repeat, it needs a few more Ted Donato miracles.
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