Faceoff Circle: Winthrop Students Enjoy Watching Their Teacher Jillian Dempsey Excel for the Boston Pride

Jillian Dempsey showed no signs of relinquishing her crown as the most electrifying player in the Premier Hockey Federation or her reigning champion Boston Pride team’s hold on the Isobel Cup.

It was a fantastic opening weekend of the 2021-22 season for Dempsey, the former Harvard University star from Winthrop. The Boston Pride captain scored her milestone 50th career goal, assisted on linemate McKenna Brand’s short-handed winning goal in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Whitecaps, and joined her teammates in unveiling the 2021 National Women’s Hockey League championship banner. (The NWHL has changed its name to the Premier Hockey Federation).

Jillian Dempsey.

But of all her glorious individual achievements as the Connor McDavid of women’s hockey, the humble Harvardian seemed to enjoy the presence of her fifth-grade students in the crowd at the Warrior Rink the most. The Cummings School teacher extended a fist-bump through the glass to acknowledge her students before the game, and there was the hero’s reception that she experienced from them after the games as they waited patiently for her to emerge from the Pride locker room.

“I’m here to see Miss Dempsey,” said Cummings School fifth grader Molly Titemore, who attended Sunday’s game with her family. “She’s a really cool teacher. I like her because she’s a hockey player and she can manage two things at once. This is my first time seeing her play hockey, and she’s awesome. I know she went to Harvard, too. I’m going to tell my classmates how much fun we had today.”

Boston Pride Coach Paul Mara, who played 12 seasons in the National Hockey League and who like Winthrop’s Mike Eruzione, has an Olympic gold medal (as an assistant coach of the 2018 U.S. women’s hockey team), appreciates Dempsey’s impactful presence and exceptional leadership.

“Jillian is a special person and a special player,” said Mara. “The way she dedicates herself to this game is second to none. And her work ethic, her intensity, her leadership – it’s awesome to be around.”

Boston Pride goaltender Katie Burt, who played three seasons for Anthony Martucci’s Winthrop High varsity team beginning in the sixth grade,

said of her teammate, “I love Demps. She’s awesome. Jillian’s the hardest worker on the ice and the ultimate professional. She shows up every day ready to work hard and she’s the ultimate leader who brings us all together.”

As her students rushed to take photos with her after the game, Dempsey, who is playing on an All-Beanpot line with McKenna Brand (Northeastern) and Sammy Davis (Boston University), talked about the opening weekend of the new season.

“It’s a great start to the season,” said Dempsey. “I’m proud of today’s effort and obviously it’s great to start the year 2-0.”

As for her career goal-scoring milestone, Dempsey said, “It’s exciting. I’m more focused on the wins and getting us to where we need to be. It’s a great testament to all the linemates and teammates I’ve had.”

Dempsey, whose parents and sister were at the games, said it was nice to see the large crowd back in the rink [after COVID-19 affected attendance last season]. “To have the lively crowd in Boston, to be able to have my students in the crowd, and my family and friends – that’s what makes its worth it. Having my students here really makes me smile. They pound on the glass, and I try to go over and give them a little fist-bump, give them a wave and let them know that I see that they’re here and appreciate all their support.”

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