NWHL teams are continuing to build their rosters for the 2020-21 season and on May 4 and 5 the Buffalo Beauts and Boston Pride made significant additions to their teams. Six days after selecting her with the third overall pick the Beauts announced that they had come to terms with goaltender Carly Jackson (University of Maine).
The next day Boston revealed that they had re-signed Jillian Dempsey for her sixth season with the franchise and the league. Dempsey has been the team captain for the past three seasons and has become one of the faces of the league as one of it’s remaining original members.
Why was Jackson the first goalie off the board at the 2020 NWHL Draft? Maybe because she set a plethora of new records during her four years at Maine. Jackson leaves the school as the all-time leader in wins (45), saves (3,029), save percentage (.923), shutouts (10), and goals-against average (2.15). In a win against top-pick Sammy Davis’ Boston University Terriers two months ago (Feb. 28) Jackson stopped an incredible 57 shots.
“It means everything to me to be playing for Buffalo (this upcoming season) in the NWHL and to have the opportunity to play professional hockey and inspire the young athletes of the future,” said Jackson in the press release announcing her signing. “I’m looking forward to meeting my hockey family in Buffalo and bringing a championship to the city. Go Beauts!”
The announcement of Jackson’s selection was made on Twitter via video message by the third overall pick in the 1983 NHL Draft – hockey Hall-of-Famer Pat LaFontaine, who played his career on three teams in New York State: the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Rangers.
“It was an amazing honor to be introduced by Pat LaFontaine,” Jackson said. “The NWHL did a phenomenal job with the draft and I can’t say enough about how much of a case act this league is. It’s also incredible to see the growth of women’s hockey and all of the ambassadors of this league.”
The Beauts used four goaltenders last season, but Jackson (who wasn’t one of them) is the first one they have under contract for the upcoming season. She joins Taylor Accursi, Lisa Chesson, and Marie-Jo Pelletier on Buffalo’s current roster.
Ms. Dempsey’s Class is in Session
When she isn’t teaching fifth graders Dempsey has been giving lessons to NWHL opponents over the past five seasons. The reigning co-MVP led the league in points (40) and assists (23) this past season while leading her team to a 23-1-0 record. She was also the captain of the winning team at the All-Star Game and established a new record in the Accuracy Shooting competition, nailing four targets in 9.69 seconds.
“Demps is the best all-around player in the history of the NWHL, and yet she’s in the prime of her career and continues to get better,” said Boston head coach Paul Mara. “She is one of the best leaders in all of sports. To any of the young girls and boys in youth hockey looking for someone to emulate, I’d suggest they watch Jill Dempsey.”
An original member of the league, Dempsey is the league’s all-time leader in goals (46) and points (98) over her 91 career games. She also won the Isobel Cup with the Pride in the league’s inaugural season and also won the Clarkson Cup in the CWHL the year prior to that.
“It is an honor to live my dream of playing professional hockey among the talented, hard-working women of the NWHL, and I look forward to being a part of the continued growth of the league. I’m thrilled to re-sign with the Boston Pride for my sixth season. Bring on the quest for the Isobel Cup! PPW! (Prove People Wrong),” said Dempsey in the press release announcing her signing.
“Demps is the best kind of teacher, even outside the classroom, because she makes everyone around her better! Playing with her the last four years I have learned so much about leadership, loving the game, and superstitions (specifically that you can never have too many to get you ready for a game!),” said teammate Lexi Bender.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.