The men's ice hockey team closed out a successful Winter Break and kicked off the new semester with a decisive 6-3 victory over Salem State Monday night.

The visiting Vikings drew first blood, scoring seven minutes into the first period; however, seven minutes later the Bears struck back on a Jordan Lalor '12 goal from Robert Toczylowski '13 and Brendan Reich '11. Senior captain Colin McCormack scored again with 30 seconds remaining in the period, closing out the first 20 minutes with a 2-1 lead and outshooting the Vikings 18-12.

Bowdoin turned on the offense in the second period, starting two minutes in with Graham Sisson '12 redirecting a pass from McCormack over the Salem goaltender's right shoulder, also assisted by Kyle Shearer-Hardy '11. The next two goals were career firsts for Trent Blossom '12, who hammered home an uncovered rebound, and Rob MacGregor '13 who lit the lamp minutes later, scoring with traffic in front of the net.

Salem State's Justin Roy scored his fourth goal of the season to bring the score to 5-2, until Jeff Fanning '11 rounded out Bowdoin's scoring two minutes later, assisted by Shearer-Hardy and Reich. Salem State scored once more before the second period horn sounded.

Despite a third period riddled with penalty trouble for both teams, the Bears were able to stave off the Vikings for the last 20 minutes of play. Senior netminder Chris Rossi contributed seven saves in the third to close out the win, after Connor Shannon '13 made 25 saves on 28 shots in the first 40 minutes.

With Monday's win, the team improved to 11-4 on the season, boosted by the fact that the Bears have ushered in the New Year thus far with six wins and two losses. McCormack was pleased with the team's performance over the break and said that controlling the tempo of the game and persistence in front of the net helped to generate offensive success.

"We've been throwing a lot of shots at opposing goalies of late," he said. "I think when a goalie sees that many shots in a game, it is going to take a pretty special performance on his part to keep pucks out of the net."

Opposing goalies should be wary of a relentless Bowdoin offense that has outshot opponents 323-209 and outscored them 38-20 in the past eight games. This persistent offense combined with reliable defense and solid goaltending has brought the Bears to first place in the NESCAC, where they are tied with Amherst.

The Bears have a tough schedule ahead, with a crucial run of six important NESCAC games. The team will travel to Williams to face off with the fourth-place Ephs on Friday, followed by a tilt Saturday with the sixth-place Middlebury squad. The Bears will then return home to take on Amherst, with whom they currently share the first place position, on February 5, and seventh-place Hamilton the following evening.

The results of these conference match-ups will be a key element in determining whether the Bears can stay on top for the post-season.

Coach Terry Meagher, however, is confident in the team's consistency and said, "It now comes down to timely saves and goals, people who produce in big games."

McCormack also approved of the team's recent performance as a first place team, saying "I think we've put ourselves in a position where we can experience success."