Updated: Oct 17, 2021
By Rick Menning
NEW HAVEN, CT -- The Yale University women's ice hockey team certainly didn't approach Friday's showdown against the Connecticut Whale with an exhibition-game mentality.
Putting their super effort in overdrive from the opening faceoff, the Bulldogs weren't intimidated by their Premier Hockey Federation (formerly National Women's Hockey League) opponents and achieved a 7-3 victory at Ingalls Rink.
Junior Charlotte Welch, who hails from Winchester, Massachusetts, was nothing short of outstanding with a hat-trick performance as the hard-charging Yale squad served notice that it is ready to open the regular season at home against the Saint Anselm College Hawks this Friday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs came out extremely aggressive and controlled the tempo throughout much of the first period, and for that matter the entire game, with solid forechecking and tenacity at both ends of the ice.
Welch noted that the chemistry up and down the Yale roster has been building for the past few months.
"October and September we were able to get back in the swing of things," said Welch, who credited her linemates with helping her have high-quality opportunities on all three goals. "We have a great dynamic in which everyone lifts each other up and everyone has good attitudes."
Welch hopes that the framework for success, which was evidenced in Friday's exhibition, will continue throughout the regular season. That includes making it extremely tough for opponents to get anything going offensively.
Full throttle all shifts
The Bulldogs did exactly that on Friday with disruptions to the majority of the Connecticut Whale's attempts to build rushes coming out of their end of the ice and through the neutral zone.
"A lot of hardcore checking; that's like the name of the game for us," Welch said. "Just making sure we're going full throttle every shift and not taking anything for granted."
With Yale on the power play 7:41 into the action, Welch began her assault on net when she snuck in around the right side and tipped in an initial shot from Olivia Muhn past Whale netminder Abbie Ives for the first of many Bulldogs' goals.
Less than four minutes later, first-year forward Anna Bargman found herself wide open to the left of the crease and easily deposited a perfect pass from Claire Dalton past an out-of-position Ives to increase the advantage to 2-0.
The Bulldogs won a significant amount of puck battles and matched the Whale's physical play along the boards. Yale outshot the visitors, 10-9, over the first 20 minutes.
Dalton, along with Grace Lee and Welch, were warriors on the attack early and often as they continually pressured the Whale. Rebecca Vanstone also came through with solid all-around play in the pre-season matchup.
The Yale skaters never let their foot off the gas and needed only 55 seconds into the second period to make it 3-0 when Elle Hartje fought her way through traffic for a shorthanded goal on a super backhander that went top shelf.
Welch then took her game into the stratosphere and powered home the next two goals for the Bulldogs, who continued to have the upper hand in shots at 20-14 through 40 minutes.
'D' comes up huge
While the offense was in top form, the defense also shone behind the veteran leadership of Emma Seitz, a junior, and senior Greta Skarzynski. Both used their blocking and persistence to keep the Whale off stride all evening.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs' goalie tandem of starter Pia Dukaric and Gianna Meloni, who entered the contest exactly midway through the second period, were sharp as both made some key point-blank stops as part of a 21-save combined showing.
The Whale, which managed to pull even in shots at 24-24 when the final buzzer sounded (and before a special five-minute 3-on-3 overtime agreed to by both teams), tallied their first goal at the 4:31 mark of the second period. The PHF squad added two more scores early in the third period.
Yale put the finishing touches to its impressive showing late in the third period when Seitz blasted home a one-timer from deep in the left circle.
There are no tickets required to attend any Yale University women's ice hockey game this season. Also, the adjoining parking garage is open and there is no cost to game spectators.
All those attending games (must be age 12 and up) will be required to show proof of vaccination (actual card or photo) and wear masks at all times while inside the arena.
For complete details regarding fan regulations as well as the Bulldogs' schedule, roster and all other information, visit Women's Ice Hockey - Yale University (yalebulldogs.com).