Duluth East standout Ryder Donovan commits to UND
Ryder Donovan was pretty certain that he wanted to play college hockey at UND when he stepped foot in Ralph Engelstad Arena on his recent visit.
But then, he sat down with Trevor Olson, UND's senior forward who played high school hockey at Donovan's school, Duluth East.
"Once I heard from him and got a feel for what the program's all about, oh yeah, it was a done deal," Donovan said.
Donovan made it official Wednesday by giving his verbal commitment to head coach Brad Berry, choosing UND over offers from his hometown team, Minnesota Duluth, as well as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Omaha, RPI, Cornell, Western Michigan and Michigan Tech.
Donovan, a 6-foot-3, 181-pound forward, is a junior in high school, eligible to come to campus in the fall of 2019.
What did Olson say to Donovan during his visit?
"He told me a lot about the coaching staff," Donovan said. "He said coach Jax (Dane Jackson) is a beauty in the locker room, coach Berry is the most caring head coach you could find and coach (Matt) Shaw is the most meticulous, smartest coach you could have and a power-play expert. It was pretty cool to hear, especially from a player."
Donovan said he met with the coaching staff in Duluth on Wednesday and told them that he would attend UND.
"I knew I wanted to go there and I didn't want to drag it on too long with other teams. I didn't want to waste their time," Donovan said. "When I committed, Berry jumped up and gave me a hug. It's something I'll never forget."
Donovan, who started playing varsity for the Greyhounds as an eighth-grader, has surged onto the scene recently.
He had offers this summer to play for Dubuque in the United States Hockey League or to join the National Team Development Program's Under-18 team, but he turned both down to return to Duluth East for his junior year.
The college offers rolled in, too, and Donovan had numerous options.
"I think I chose the best one," Donovan said. "It was tough with the hometown thing, I've always grown up a Bulldog fan, but it was the best thing for me to get out of town, but not too far out of town. Grand Forks is the perfect location for me."
Donovan's Duluth East team finished runner-up in the section playoffs, losing to UND-bound Gavin Hain and Grand Rapids High School in double overtime.
"He's a good friend of mine," Donovan said of Hain. "He's the first person I told when I committed."
The 2000-born Donovan will represent the U.S. at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic next month. Then, he'll work to progress his game at Duluth East.
"I've grown a lot in the last year—like four inches," Donovan said. "I try to be a strong, power center down low and play both ways. I like to play defense. I think I can make plays on both ends of the rink and be reliable."