Riga, Latvia - The Boston Junior Whalers are proud to share that six former players were selected to represent the United States of America in the IIHF World Championships, and helped the U.S. squad capture a bronze medal.
After a slow start in dropping Game 1 to Finland, the United States rebounded to win the remaining six preliminary games at the 2021 IIHF World Championships. After a 6-1 victory in the QuarterFinals, the Americans eventually came up short losing to Canada 4-2 in the semi-finals, which landed them in the Bronze Medal Game. The United States came flying out of the gate, surpassing Germany by a score of 6-1 to claim the bronze medal.
Six former members of the Boston Junior Whalers as players, coaches, and a combination of both, represented the United States of America and helped the U.S. bring home a bronze medal - read about each of them below:
Matt Beniers was the youngest member of Team USA; the 2002-born forward enters his first year of eligibility for the NHL Draft, and is a consensus top 5 pick projection next month. Matty grew up playing his youth hockey for the South Shore Kings program before matriculating on to Milton Academy where he starred as a freshman during the 2017-18 season. He then progressed on to play two consecutive seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program, before landing at the University of Michigan this past season. As the youngest player on Team USA, Matty contributed with 1 goal, 2 assists, for 3 points. The Hingham, MA native is going to have some good news coming his way soon when his name is called early on Day 1 in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft next month!
Colin Blackwell hails from North Andover, MA, and his career has embodied that of 'the road less traveled'. After a stellar 4-year tenure at St. John's Prep, Colin entered Harvard University as a true freshman and contributed greatly to the team right away. After a series of concussions sidelined him for nearly two seasons, Colin battled back and finished out his career with the Crimson. Despite the San Jose Sharks losing the rights to Colin as a player as a result of him staying in school for 5 years, they invited him to training camp and he was a big part of the Sharks' AHL club in his first season. The next year, he signed with the Rochester Americans in the AHL and led the team in points, and to the playoffs, all while missing 12 games due to injury. It was from there that we was offered his first NHL contract, and signed a 2-way deal with the Nashville Predators. Over his two years split between Nashville and their farm club in Milwaukee, Colin tallied 10 points in 33 NHL games. Prior to last season, he signed a 2-year deal with the New York Rangers - and was the most pleasant surprise in recent history with his production this year at 12 goals 10 assists for 22 points in 47 games.
Ryan Donato, a native of Scituate, MA, matriculated to the NHL to finish out the duration of the 2017-18 college season, after three seasons playing at Harvard University. While at Harvard, he skated for former Boston Bruins legend, and Harvard head coach Ted Donato. An offensive juggernaut, Donato tallied 60 goals, 44 assists, for 104 points in just three short NCAA seasons.
Ryan played his Prep School hockey at Dexter & Southfield School, before matriculating to the U.S. National. Team Development Program and eventually the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.
After his second season with the U.S. National program, Donato was selected #56 Overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded to San Jose in exchange for Charlie Coyle, and then traded again from San Jose to Minnesota for a high draft pick.
Ryan is no stranger to the USA Hockey program, having played in both the World Junior U20 event in 2016 and the Olympic Games in 2018.
Zac Jones currently skates for the New York Rangers, after playing 2 seasons at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst his team appeared in the National Championship twice - once with a win, and falling short in the other contest.
Zac grew up playing his youth hockey for the Atlantic Storm 2000 Team based out of the southeast. He then matriculated onward to South Kent Academy where he skated for the Selects Academy program for three years and served as team captain in his final stint. He played one season in the USHL before heading to college, where he totaled 52 points as a defenseman for the Tri City Storm and was named USHL Rookie of the year.
After his sophomore season at UMass, he joined the New York Rangers for the final 10 games of their NHL season, recording 4 assists. Zac was a member of back-to-back Boston Junior Whalers Mini Chowder Cup team championships, as well as a boatload of other tournament titles over the years.
Ryan Shea hails from Milton, MA, and grew up playing his youth hockey for the South Shore Kings and the Boston Advantage Hockey Club. Shea's playing career has been a loyal one - playing four seasons at Boston College High School before doing one year with Youngstown in the USHL, and finally four straight seasons at Northeastern University.
He served as team captain both his junior and senior years in high school and college. He amassed 78 points over his 4-year college careers at Northeastern, and led the Huskies to become Beanpot Champions in his sophomore, junior, and senior campaigns.
Ryan was drafted in the 4th Round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. After electing to stay in school for all four seasons at Northeastern and not sign early, he was then able to choose which club he would like to sign his first NHL contract with - the Dallas Stars.
Tage Thompson has had a unique path to the NHL, being born in Glendale, AZ. A dual-citizen (American/Canadian), Thompson elected to declare himself as a member of the USA Hockey program for international purposes.
Thompson's father, Brent, is a former NHL veteran and current professional coach, currently in his 7th season as the Head Coach of the New York Islanders' AHL affiliate - the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. As a result, Tage and his brother Tyce, were often on the move and playing in new areas growing up. He played his youth hockey with the Phoenix Jr Coyotes, Alaska All-Stars, Mid-Fairfield Jr Rangers, Long Island Royals, and PAL Jr Islanders before joining the U.S. National Team Development program for the 2014-15 season.
Thompson entered the University of Connecticut as a true Freshman in 2015-16, and put up 32 points in his first season. That summer, he was drafted #26 Overall in the 1st Round 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues. Keeping consistent, he put up another 32 points in his sophomore season, and after UConn was eliminated he signed his first pro deal and joined the Chicago Wolves of the AHL for the remainder of their season.
The following season he joined the St. Louis Blues in a full-time capacity. He was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in the off-season, and has been a staple in the Sabres offense ever since.