Dempsey Leads Crimson to ECAC Semis

Straight Jillin’
Meredith H. Keffer

Sophomore forward Jillian Dempsey, who scored four goals for Harvard this weekend against St. Lawrence, helped the team advance in the ECAC playoffs as it searches for a Frozen Four berth.

Scoring four goals in a weekend is not an easy feat, but sophomore forward Jillian Dempsey made it seem that way.

Dempsey’s four goals propelled the Harvard’s women’s hockey team to two victories this past weekend against St. Lawrence, helping the team earn an ECAC semifinal berth against Dartmouth on Thursday.

Within the initial 90 seconds of the series’ first game, Dempsey put Harvard on the scoreboard with a slapshot into the open right side of the net with the assistance of two of her teammates, freshmen Lyndsey Fry and Marissa Gedman.

“It’s great to score right off the bat,” Dempsey said. “It gives me a lot of confidence, and it puts us on top before the game really gets going. If I get one in early, I might shoot a little more and play more offensively in the game.”

She converted her second goal of the weekend in the 13th minute of the third period.


After a well-executed pass from tri-captain Liza Ryabkina, Dempsey swiftly netted the puck to give the Crimson its fifth goal of the afternoon.

The second game of the series proved a tougher match-up for Harvard, even after having a 4-0 lead after the first period. St. Lawrence fought back, trailing just 4-3 at the end of the second period.

“Between the second and third, Coach said, ‘Hey, it’s up to you guys,’” Dempsey said. “It was almost better because it allowed us to realize what kind of team we wanted to be, and what kind of player I wanted to be.”

Following the lead of tri-captain Kate Buesser—who had scored just seconds earlier—Dempsey fired another goal into the Saints net for Harvard’s second goal in the final period’s first minute. Dempsey’s goal was the Crimson’s sixth and firmly cemented the team’s lead.

Ten minutes later, on the power play, Dempsey notched another goal, extending the lead to 7-3.

“The best quality she has is her tenacity,” Buesser said. “If there’s a one-one battle for a puck along the boards, she’s going to get it nine times out of 10. She’s got a great vision on the ice. Knowing that Jill’s going to have the puck is always good.”

Dempsey’s performance stemmed from hours of hard work on and off the ice. She’s been playing hockey since she was five years old, but she started off-ice training only a year or two before she started playing college hockey.

Her four multi-goal games and eight multi-point games this season have helped Dempsey earn All-Ivy Second Team honors.

“It’s a great honor, especially in such a competitive league,” the sophomore said. “I feel incredibly honored and humbled. However, I want to do as much as I can for the team. Being named that doesn’t really change that mentality. We just need to do what needs to happen and work hard.”

The recognition did not surprise her teammates.

“She just loves the game,” Buesser said. “With that love, she’s completely willing to put in the work all summer on and off ice. Just the fact that she lives and breathes the sport is a huge reason for her success.”

Her skills on the ice are not her only qualities valued by her teammates. Her eager and fun attitude in the locker room is also appreciated.

“She’s just a kid that makes you smile,” Buesser said. “It’s just awesome to have her on the team with me. I can always count on her for a laugh. You can always turn to someone like Jill and have a better day. She’s a talented kid, and she puts in the work, and I believe that that is the contributing factor to her success this year.”

With her vivacious personality and strong work ethic, Dempsey is eager to take on Dartmouth in the semifinals, hopefully to earn a place in the NCAA tournament.

“We just wanted to go in and win the next game,” Dempsey said. “It’s a one game season, because that’s all we’re guaranteed.”