After three postponed matches in the first week of the New Year, the Bulldogs finally hit the ice against Dartmouth Friday night. 

The No. 8 Yale women’s hockey team (11–3–1, 6–2–1 ECAC) got back into the swing of things in its matchup against Dartmouth (8–11–0, 2–10–0). This calendar year, the Big Green has already taken on state-rival University of New Hampshire as well as ECAC teams Cornell and No. 6 Colgate. Picking up a 1–2 overall and 0–2 conference record in 2022, Dartmouth was hungry for a tally in the win column. Meanwhile, this was Yale’s first game of the new year.

The Bulldogs’ trip to Hanover was originally planned to be their fourth game after the holiday season. Games against Sacred Heart, Union and Rensslaer were halted because of COVID-19 protocols. While the first two matches were put on hold because of issues within the competitors’ teams, the RPI matchup had to be postponed due to safety concerns on the Elis’ end. All three games were rescheduled for later in the season. The Blue and White will now take on the Pioneers Jan. 18, the Engineers Jan. 25 and the Dutchwomen on Feb. 8.

Although Yale hasn’t competed since their Dec. 8 triumph over Boston University, the team has stayed in shape over the last month and was raring to go for its first match of the second half of the season.

“We’ve been working hard in practice to keep our compete level high for the second half of the season,” netminder Gianna Meloni ’22 wrote to the News in an email. “Every point matters in the second half so we make sure to keep focused for games and work hard each shift as a team.”

The new year also brought new faces to the squad. On Thursday, the team announced that Erica Kromm would join the staff as assistant coach. 

Kromm boasts an impressive resume. After four years at ECAC-rival Brown, she played professionally for nine seasons with the Calgary Inferno of the now-defunct CWHL. After retiring from professional hockey, Kromm did not completely hang up her skates. She coached for Mount Royal University of the Canadian U Sports Division for two years before taking on the role of assistant coach for Long Island University at the beginning of this season. 

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to such a prestigious university as Yale,” said Kromm in a statement. “I look forward to being a part of the program’s continued success on and off of the ice.”

Kromm made her return to the ECAC at Dartmouth’s Thompson Arena Friday for a night of back-and-forth hockey. 

After a scoreless first period, the Bulldogs appeared to have taken the lead with a wraparound goal by Tess Dettling ’22, but the play was ruled “no goal” because Rebecca Vanstone ’23 interfered with Dartmouth goalie Hannah Humphreys. 

Taking the negative call in stride, the Bulldogs quickly jumped onto the scoreboard. Falling as she took the wristshot, Elle Hartje ’24 broke the tie with a shot from the low slot just 36 seconds later. 

Midway through the second frame, the Big Green tied the game with a power play goal, the sixth the Bulldogs have allowed this season. 

Dettling scored a legal goal of her own at the end of the period with a diving deke to give the Bulldogs a 2–1 lead going into the second intermission. 

After Dartmouth tied the game once again at the beginning of the third period, Anna Bargman ’25 scored what would be the game-winning goal with a wrist shot off a pass from the corner. Captain Greta Skarzynski ’22 sealed a Bulldog victory with an empty net goal with less than 30 seconds left in regulation. 

“We fought through a pesky Dartmouth team and then cashed in halfway through the third with a great slot finish by Bargman,” head coach Mark Bolding said to Yale Athletics. “The team defense held strong, and it was a solid road win to get us going again here in January.”

Goaltender Gianna Meloni ‘22 stopped 23 of 25 shots Friday night. (Melanie Heller, Contributing Photographer)

Although completion runs fierce on the ice, there is always room for camaraderie between the teams during breaks in the action. 

With collegiate hockey recruits traditionally coming from the “three Ms” — Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota — a matchup with both goalies from a state as far south as Maryland is a rare sight. Meloni and Humphreys both grew up in the Washington, DC metro area and played on the same club team — the Washington Pride — throughout high school.

“It’s really cool to be able to play against former teammates and players from the same high school club program,” said Meloni. “To see people you’ve grown up with make it to the Division I level is incredible and makes facing off against them more fun and exciting because you know players wearing the other jersey.”

Despite soundly defeating the Big Green last November with a five-goal margin, this game was a much needed warm-up before Yale takes on storied rival Harvard next. Yale has a chance of sweeping Harvard in regular season play tonight, which they haven’t been able to do since at least 2001. 

The Bulldogs will take on the No. 10 Crimson in Cambridge on Jan. 15 at 4:00 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Melanie Heller currently serves as the Sports Editor for the Yale Daily News. She previously reported on women's hockey. Originally from Potomac, MD, she is a senior in Silliman College double majoring in Economics and Humanities.