In scoring 31 goals in his two-plus seasons with the BCHL's Victoria Grizzlies, Tyler Welsh showed off a nose for the net.
Now in his third season with the NCAA's Yale Bulldogs, the 22-year-old Whistlerite is showing off that sense of smell with five goals—just one off the team lead—in his first 12 games. Welsh had been shut out in his rookie season before popping his first two in 2018-19.
"I'm definitely feeling pretty good this year. I came in with a bit more confidence after playing well down the stretch last year," he said. "I'm finally able to put some pucks in the net this year."
With the whole second half of the season to go, Welsh is just three points away from equalling his NCAA career high of 11 set last year. His eight points are currently tops on the Bulldogs.
"Confidence is the big thing. I've been playing a bit more of an offensive role this year, so that's good. I've just been shooting more in the games, so that's been helping. I've been trying to get more pucks on the net," he said.
Leading into the season, Welsh focused on building strength in the gym, which he said has helped him retain the puck when challenged.
"I've improved my shot a little bit more and have found a way to score and get to that dirty area a little bit more this year," he said.
Welsh started out with two points in his first five games, missing one, as Yale started the season 1-5. However, he tallied six points in his next six games as the Bulldogs put up a 4-2 record and started to turn around their season heading into the Christmas break.
"It's good to get some momentum for myself and for the team. We were struggling early but got three wins in a row to end before the break," he said. "I think we're probably better than our record shows. We weren't playing well early on and we got off to a slow start.
"We had a couple guys that were injured, that we should get back, so hopefully we go on a run after Christmas."
Part of Welsh's success can be chalked up to having consistent linemates, as he has developed chemistry with Justin Pearson and Curtis Hall after finishing the 2018-19 season alongside them. Hall in particular has some pedigree as a 2018 draft pick of the Boston Bruins and is representing the United States at the World Junior Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.
"We've got some good chemistry going. It's been a good line for us," Welsh said.
The economics major has one more year of college eligibility remaining after this one, and looking beyond his collegiate career, hopes to connect with a pro team after graduation.
"We'll see how the next year and a half goes, how much interest I get," he said. "I think I'd like to play hockey for a couple more years afterward, see if I can make it in one of the pro leagues."