LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Jillian Dempsey is the Boston Pride. Coach Paul Mara called his captain the face of the franchise, and of the NWHL.
“The heart and soul,” said team president Hayley Moore. “She embodies everything we stand for on and off the ice. Everything about her is consistent.”
Dempsey, the Winthrop and Harvard product who has been with the Pride since its debut in 2015, scored twice Sunday and recorded her 100th NWHL point in a 5-1 win over Buffalo. She also played her usual relentless game, lifting sticks, blocking shots, and drawing penalties until the final buzzer.
Afterward, the NWHL’s career scoring leader shrugged off the newest line in the league record book.
“The focus was on outworking the opponent, having more grit, and winning every little battle,” she said. “We want the [Isobel] Cup. That’s what our milestone is.”
Helping Boston (1-1) bounce back from its season-opening loss to Minnesota, Dempsey was one step ahead of Buffalo (0-1-1) all night. She opened the scoring with a fluky bounce from behind the goal, sending the puck out front and off the stick of netminder Carly Jackson (35 saves).
Her second goal was more emphatic. Boston’s power play, 0 for 6 in their opening loss to Minnesota and 0 for 2 to begin Sunday’s affair, ended the skid at 4:33 of the second. On a 5 on 3, Dempsey slammed home a sharp-angle pass from Lexie Laing. That gave her a 48-52—100 line for her career.
In the opening minutes, Pride backup goalie Victoria Hanson made easy work of a penalty shot by Buffalo’s Kristin Lewicki, but she couldn’t stop Jordan Juron’s breakaway. The ex-Pride forward tied it at 11:50 of the first, tucking home a blocker-side backhander on a clean break from the blue line.
Boston, which outshot Buffalo, 40-21, took the lead for good when McKenna Brand loaded up and fired a top-shelf twister with 1:04 left in the first, beating Jackson’s glove.
With one Beaut in the box 33 seconds after Dempsey’s second, 2020 No. 1 overall pick Sammy Davis collected her first goal with the Pride to make it 4-1.
The Pride’s power play finished 2 for 7.
Late in the second, Boston’s Taylor Wenczkowski finished a pretty dangle for a four-goal edge.
“That whole line was buzzing tonight,” Mara said of his all-rookie third line, which includes Davis and Teresa Vanišová, the skilled Czech by way of Maine who went 12th overall in last spring’s draft. He answered another question about the unit with a question: “Wait, which line is our third line?”
The Pride may have several No. 1 lines, in Mara’s view, but they had five defenders in the final 50 minutes of the game. Jenna Rheault, who created a goal in Saturday’s opener with a rush up the ice, left the game early with an apparent right wrist injury. She did not return.
Mara said Rheault would be re-evaluated Monday, before the Pride practices here. Boston faces Toronto (0-1-1) at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Pride’s extra player at Lake Placid is a defender, Briana Mastel. She was scratched for the first two games. The former Harvard captain is plenty capable, having played on the US Under-18 team at the 2012 U-18 World Junior Championships. She is in her second pro season, both with the Pride.
Eastwood the one for Six
Trivia question, answered: the first goal in Toronto Six history was scored by Lindsay Eastwood, who snapped one home from the slot in the first period of a 6-5 shootout loss to Minnesota. The expansion club is still looking for its first win, however, after a four-goal comeback by the Whitecaps … Standout Minnesota netminder Amanda Leveille, massive in a 2-1 win over the Pride on Saturday, had a rough outing. She was stung by a shot up high in the first period, forcing backup Allie Morse to play for several minutes. Leveille returned and allowed five goals on 35 shots. She allowed six goals in her five previous appearances. With every team playing each other once during the five-game regular season, Boston and Minnesota wouldn’t meet again until the semifinals at the earliest.