Greg Prybylski has waited four years for this.
The Cheektowaga native came to Buffalo State hoping to have an impact on its men's hockey program. Finally, there are results to show for the effort.
Prybylski and his Bengals teammates will make just their second appearance in the State University of New York Athletic Conference playoffs when they travel to Plattsburgh for a two-game series Friday and Saturday.
The last and only time Buffalo State had advanced to the playoffs in its 13-year history was in 2001-02.
"This is my first playoff game as a collegiate athlete, and I'm really excited about it and really looking forward to it," said Prybylski, a forward and co-captain. "Clinching a playoff spot was a surreal feeling for me. I've been here for four years, and I've been waiting for this all my college career. I came here to hopefully improve the program, and finally in my last year it looks like it's going in the right direction."
While there's still plenty of work left to do, the program seems to have begun to turn the corner under first-year head coach Nick Carriere.
In the regular season, the Bengals went 11-12-2 -- one win shy of the school record of 12 wins in 2000-01 and much improved from last season's 5-17-3 mark.
Their 8-6 record in SUNYAC play is their best finish in the conference. Last year, the Bengals were 1-10-3.
What's been working?
For Carriere, a large portion of the success comes from embracing accountability and discipline off the ice.
"We gave the guys some things to run with," Carriere said. "We said, 'This is your job, now do it or we'll find someone else who will.' Whether it was the first game of the season or the last game, guys have had to sit out because they've been late for things or decided to talk to an official in a wrong manner.
"Those are just all our team rules that were put in this year and has held guys accountable. That has helped us get guys going in the right direction. We have to do our job, and this is the way that we're going to be able to compete and win hockey games."
On the ice, individuals have posted impressive marks. Senior Sean Burke set the record for most goals in a season with 24. The transfer from Plattsburgh is tied for the national lead.
Prybylski ranks third on the school's all-time scoring list with 94 points in 97 games. In goal, junior Sean Sheehan has set school records for wins in a season (11), wins in a career (21) and shutouts in a season (two).
"Our team unity is real big. We're all real close, and we really fix a lot of our game on our work ethic," said Buffalo native Sean O'Connell, who tied the school record for points in a career by a defenseman with 54. "We figure if we can play three full periods of hockey, we can pretty much stay with any team."
The Bengals will need 60 solid minutes for two straight days if they want to notch their first playoff series win. Before this season, Buffalo State was 0-21-2 against Plattsburgh. They notched their first win at Plattsburgh earlier this season before dropping a home contest.
"We just have to keep things simple for ourselves and stick to our game plan," Prybylski said. "We can't play to them. . . . I think it's going to be a good weekend. I think if we can stick to our game plan, I think we can pull it off. I think all of us believe we can win it."