Courtesy of Yale Athletics

The class of 2020 played an instrumental role in guiding the Yale women’s ice hockey team through a historic season. The Bulldogs set program records for regular season and conference wins — emerging victorious in 17 of their 32 contests, 13 of which were Eastern College Athletic Conference matchups.

Two of the five seniors, goaltender Tera Hofmann ’20 and defender Saroya Tinker ’20, were also drafted into the National Women’s Hockey League.

Our expectations of success are high, especially with the new coaches and our first years stepping in,” forward Greta Skarzynski ’21 said at the start of the season.

With new head coach Mark Bolding at the helm, the Bulldogs jumped out to a strong start on their season. The Blue and White put five wins on the board in their first six contests, including a shutout by Hofmann against Dartmouth.

The Metropolitan Riveters selected Saroya Tinker ’20 with the fourth pick in the National Women’s Hockey League draft last month. (Illustration: Sophie Henry)

The Bulldogs charged into 2020 with a new mindset after dropping their previous two games, and it showed. In what was perhaps the greatest victory under Bolding’s tenure, the Bulldogs defeated No. 5 Clarkson, 5–2, in a dominant showing. With momentum on their side, Yale would go on to win six straight games.

Though some close games against Princeton and Quinnipiac broke their winning streak, the Elis persevered in the remainder of their matchups, scoring 16 total goals before finishing the regular season. They tied their program record for number of regular season wins in a year with 16 and broke the record for conference wins with 13. Heading into the playoffs, Yale was ranked fifth in the ECAC.

As the fifth seed, the women’s hockey team had to travel behind enemy lines to take on Harvard in a best-of-three series for its first-round matchup. The Bulldogs dropped the first game, losing 0–4, but rallied to claim the second game 4–3 in overtime. 

“[Game 3] will be all emotion and heart on display by all players,” head coach Mark Bolding said before the decider. “They are a great team, but we are up for the challenge and we’ve learned from the two games so far — so hopefully we can apply our knowledge of Harvard’s style of play and use our “team-first mentality” to gain the victory. Playoffs hockey is what we play for!”

The game was truly all heart, as the Bulldogs fought with their season on the line.

In the final, deciding game, the Bulldogs came out hungry for a semifinal berth. Down 3–2 in the third period, forward Claire Dalton ’22 sent the game into overtime and gave the Bulldogs another chance to fight to keep their season alive. Forty minutes and two overtimes would go by without any scoring, but less than three minutes into the third overtime, the Crimson ended the Elis’ season. 

In addition to the program records set in wins during the series, goaltender Gianna Meloni ’21 had a career-high 55 saves in the final game. Forward Charlotte Welch ’22 finished the season as the team’s leading scorer with 15 goals of the team’s 85 total tallies — Dalton and forward Rebecca Vanstone ’22 trailed close behind with 12 apiece. 

Forward Charlotte Welch ’22 finished the season as the team’s leading scorer with 15 goals. (Photo: Zoe Berg)

Following the conclusion of the Bulldogs’ season, Hofmann and Tinker were both selected by the Metropolitan Riveters of the NWHL. 

“As my career at Yale had come to an end, I hadn’t realized how much I loved the sport and what a blessing it was each day I got to step on the ice,” Tinker told Yale Athletics. “I look forward to competing as a professional female athlete and hope to inspire other women to do the same.”

The Elis will feel the loss of their seniors, but look to have another great season when they return to the ice next year.

Akshar Agarwal |

Alessa Kim-Panero |

Correction, May 20: A previous version of this article stated that Hofmann’s and Tinker’s selections in the 2020 NWHL Draft marked the first time in program history that two Bulldogs were selected in the same professional women’s hockey draft. In fact, a pair of Elis were also selected in 2017. The Boston Pride and Connecticut Whale selected Mallory Souliotis ’18 and Eden Murray ’18, respectively, with consecutive picks in 2017. The article has been updated to reflect this change.