In a Class of Her Own: Dempsey Helps Bring Women’s Hockey to New Heights

There is no question who the star among stars in women’s professional hockey is. For openers, there was a life-size cutout of Winthrop’s Jillian Dempsey welcoming fans to the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton for the National Women’s Hockey League Skills Competition and All-Star Game this past weekend.

Dempsey served as a captain of one of the teams in Sunday’s All-Star Game and she received the loudest ovations from the sell-out crowds at both events. She signed many autographs and posed for countless selfies, more than happy to promote the game of women’s hockey in America.

And it all happened not far from the Harvard campus where Jillian Dempsey reigned over Ivy League hockey and received a degree from the nation’s most prestigious college.

Dempsey added to her professional hockey stardom by winning the NWHL Shooting Skills Competition in a record-breaking (and awe-inspiring) 9.69 seconds. It may have been the best display of accuracy on a big stage by a Winthrop skater since Mike Eruzione scored his historic goal against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics.

Dempsey also netted the game-sealing goal in Team Dempsey’s 5-2 win over Team Packer [led by Madison Packer of the Riveters] in the NWHL All-Star Game. It was the perfect finish for Dempsey to an exciting weekend of women’s hockey played at its highest level.

Dempsey was back in the classroom Monday at the Cumming Elementary School where she is a fifth grade teacher. The 5-foot-4-inch captain of the Boston Pride reflected on her scintillating performance – hitting four separate targets on the hockey net in under 10 seconds – that has been viewed by thousands of hockey fans online.

“Accuracy shooting is something I try to practice continually, picking the corners and trying to work on improving my shot,” said Dempsey. “It’s something I do at every practice. It was obviously very exciting to be able to achieve that.”

Dempsey also described it as “a thrill” to score a goal in the All-Star Game. “To get that goal in front of the Boston crowd and help us win the game was something special,” she said.

Dempsey has represented the United States in international tournaments, led Harvard in the Women’s Beanpot and the NCAAs, and been a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award as the country’s top collegian. So where does she rank her experience in the NWHL All-Star events, played in her own backyard of Boston?

“It’s definitely up there – I’ve been very fortunate to have had an amazing career playing this game that I love and it’s taken me so many different places,” replied Dempsey. “It’s given me so many opportunities, so to be able to be an All-Star and captain the team in my city of Boston is definitely something that is high on that list.”

Jillian’s father, Jack, brother, Connor, and sister, Meaghan were in the audience for the All-Star festivities. “My mother and my grandmother were watching on the broadcast,” she related.

Dempsey will now set her sights on leading the Pride to the Isobel Cup – the NWHL version of the Stanley Cup. She is the league’s leading scorer for the Pride who are in first place in the standings.

“That’s the ultimate goal this season, to bring the Isobel Cup back to Boston,” said Dempsey.

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