Summer 2024

Ryan Donato scores first goal in Seattle Kraken history, stays steadied by faith in God

Tuesday night was a historic one for the NHL as its newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken, played its first-ever regular-season game.

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The Kraken fell behind early on the road in Las Vegas, allowing a 3-0 advantage to the Golden Knights (the league’s second-newest franchise) early in the second period. But at 11:32 in the second, forward Ryan Donato scored the Kraken franchise’s first-ever goal, a backhand rebound shot in front of the net. His score was the first of three consecutive goals that tied the game.

However, Las Vegas, which reached the Stanley Cup semifinals last season, netted the game-winner 35 seconds after Seattle’s third goal.

Still, it was a big night for Seattle, and for Donato in particular. Now in his sixth year in the NHL, the 25-year-old reflected on the moment in his postgame press conference.

“We just came together,” he said, “and we knew as soon as we got one (goal), the others would come.”

That goal etches his name in franchise history forever. And Donato hopes this is a franchise he stays with for a long time. He signed with the Kraken as a free agent only one month ago. Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Donato spent two years with the Bruins, was traded to the Minnesota Wild in 2019, and then to the San Jose Sharks in 2020.

Throughout his stints in different NHL cities, Donato has been steadied by his faith in God. According to A Lamp Unto My Cleats, he grew in his faith while starring in college at Harvard, and even more so when he was drafted by Boston. The Bruins had an active Bible study group while he was there, and became one of a group of players who attended regular chapel meetings and Bible studies. He continued attending chapel after he was traded to Minnesota.

“That’s definitely cool to see other players that share similar faith and show how they use it in their lives to make sure they’re staying even keel and also close to God,” Donato told A Lamp Unto My Cleats.

The trade from Boston — where he was born and raised, and where his dad, Ted, started his 13-year NHL career — rocked his world. But he found comfort in one of his favorite Bible verses, Joshua 1:9, which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

“I kind of sat back and could relax whenever I said that verse to myself or thought about that verse,” Donato said. “I know that there’s a greater plan for me and I just need to be strong and courageous and not be worried about what’s going on — because obviously He’s got plans for me.”

From Boston to Minnesota to San Jose to Seattle, Donato can still find comfort in that verse and his faith in God. He’s already made his mark on the ice for Seattle, and now looks to continue to make his mark in the NHL.

Donato will lace up his skates again on Thursday as the Kraken travel to Nashville to take on the Predators at 8 p.m. ET. After that, Seattle still has three more road games before it gets to play its first regular-season home game against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 23.

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