The New Year began with a new beginning for the men's hockey program as the Bears hosted Saint Anselm's College for the first time on Friday night at Maxcy Hall Arena.
The match up featured former SUNY Potsdam coach and Bears' Hall of Famer Ed Seney returning to his old stomping grounds. Seney led Potsdam to the school's lone SUNYAC championship during the 1995-96 season, but was now seeking a victory as a visitor.
Freshman center Vinny Caligiuri (Shoreham, N.Y. / Hartford Wolfpack) and the Bears had other ideas.
Caliguiri picked up his first career hat trick, senior goaltender Shane Talarico (Greensburgh, Pa. / Elmira College) provided another strong performance between the pipes and Potsdam defeated Saint Anselm's 5-2 to win for the fourth time in five games.
Potsdam (4-7 overall) came out as the aggressors in facing their old coach as junior left defenseman Erick Ware (Huntsville, Ala. /Kenai River Brown Bears) and Caligiuri scored in the opening six minutes and 16 seconds.
Ware, a 2011-2012 member of the SUNYAC All-Rookie team and All-SUNYAC third team, racked up his ninth career goal and first of the season.
Potsdam carried a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. First periods have been advantageous for the Bears as Potsdam has outscored opponents 13-8 in that time frame.
Caligiuri found the back of the net again late in the second period after junior left wing Ken Simon (Norwell, Mass. / Philadelphia Revolution) got out on a two-on-one, wrapped around the net and delivered a centering pass on the door step.
St. Anselm's (3-4-2 overall) answered almost immediately when senior defenseman Greg Merrill (Brighton, Mich. / Bay State Breakers) cut the deficit back to two just before the end of the second period.
Caligiuri picked up his final goal at 2:21 into the third period with a slap shot from inside the circle. Caliguiri has five goals in his last five outings.
"He [Caligiuri] was on the puck," said fifth-year coach Chris Bernard. "That's the primary reason that we recruited him to come here. He hunts pucks and keeps his feet moving. He got great effort from his line mates to have some synergy. And, he capitalized on that. That's what we are going to need to do in order to win some more games."
The Hawks' Kody Grondin made it 4-2 with 12:23 remaining in the game. St. A's was not able to get any closer, however as Bears' sophomore Todd Thomas (Davidsville, Pa. / Hartford Wolfpack) added a power play goal in the closing minutes.
Senior goaltender Shane Talarico (Greensburgh, Pa. / Elmira College) recorded a season-high with 32 saves to improve to 3-0. Talarico just beat out his previous high of 31 saves in a 3-2 overtime win in the Bears' last game against SUNY Cortland on December 7.
"He [Talarico] was on time for us," Bernard said. "He made critical saves at critical times. He did it with in such a manner that it inspired confidence to our guys. He looked like it was going to be really tough to get a puck by him tonight. When you have a goalie that projects that persona, the confidence just spreads throughout the team."
The teams will meet in a rematch Saturday 4 p.m. at Maxcy Hall Arena.