Proud To Be a Pioneer: Donald MacLeod Gets the Call to the Hall As Coach of Northeastern’s National Champions

Winthrop resident Donald MacLeod officially becomes a pioneering women’s hockey coaching legend tonight – for the second time.

An inductee in the Northeastern University Hall of Fame himself already, MacLeod will join his undefeated 1987-88 national champion women’s hockey team and assistant coach Kevin Moran for the walk into school history at the induction ceremony.

MacLeod’s advancement and promotion of women’s hockey five decades ago can certainly be appreciated in Winthrop where Butch Martucci has become a beloved coach and his high school teams are producing undefeated seasons while sending players off to play at the college level.

Back in the 1980s, MacLeod was among the first college coaches to offer full scholarships to women’s hockey players. MacLeod was so widely revered in the game that he was invited to coach the first USA National Team, setting the stage for women’s hockey to become an Olympic sport in 1998.

“I recruited all the players for the [1987-88] Northeastern team,” said MacLeod, who had coached high school hockey in Saugus, Wakefield, and Georgetown before being hired at Northeastern. “I took the job at Northeastern because I loved to coach.”

Of course, then as now, MacLeod took great enjoyment in beating Harvard in the Beanpot. “We beat Harvard seven straight years for the Beanpot title, and in my last year at Northeastern, they beat us. Their coach, John Dooley, almost fell down on the ice when he came over to shake hands because he was so excited.”

The numbers say it all about MacLeod’s majestic presence behind the bench. His teams at Northeastern were 201-59-5. He led the Huskies to a 43-game undefeated streak.

MacLeod said he was able to have six scholarship players on his team over the course of four years. “In those days, I would say the players were receiving $40,000 scholarships,” recalled MacLeod. “Sometimes, we would give half-scholarships or quarter-scholarships to players, and it certainly helped them financially.”

Interestingly, MacLeod’s goaltender on his national championship Northeastern team was Kelly Dyer, who had played high school hockey for the Acton-Boxboro boys team.

“Tom Barasso [who went on to play 18 professional seasons in the NHL] was the starting goalie and Kelly was the backup,” said MacLeod.

MacLeod said he is happy to see how popular women’s hockey has become at the youth, high school, and collegiate levels. He said he has followed the college and pro career of Harvard star Jillian Dempsey of Winthrop. “She’s a great athlete and an outstanding role model for young players,” said MacLeod.

But it was Donald MacLeod who set the path on which thousands of athletes now travel. MacLeod put the Northeastern women’s program on the map and tonight he’ll reunite with the players who won a national championship in his program.

It should be a great evening for the man they call “The Pioneer.”

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