Last year was a breakout season for the Bengals as new coach Nick Carriere led his team to their best record ever and only their second playoff appearance.
However, Carriere downplays the sudden success. “We’re still known as Buffalo State, and we had a decent year,” he said. “I don’t think it classifies us one way or another. It comes down to who brings it night in and night out.”
Two players Buffalo State will definitely miss each night are last season’s leading scorers, Sean Burke and Greg Prybylski, both now playing professionally. The returning players will be under a lot of pressure to fill that huge scoring void, especially Jason Hill and Mike DeMarco.
A trio of transfers will join them: Johnny Duco from Oswego, Travis Whitehead from UW-Superior, and Mike Fiume from Neumann. Incoming freshmen forwards to look out for include D’Arcy Thomas, Dennis Sicard, and Dave Koch.
Defensively, Jeff Mok leads the way of returning players along with Mike Ansell, Cody Cole, and Clay Lewis. Freshmen Jesse Adair, Justin Merritt, and Ryan Ramage will be added to the mix.
First team All-SUNYAC goaltender, Sean Sheehan, returns. He played all but 21 minutes last year and was a key reason the Bengals were a threat to win every time they took to the ice.
“One of the hardest working guys on our team,” Carriere said. “First guy on the ice and last guy off the ice.”
Transfer Bryn Davies from Wisconsin-Stevens Point will keep Sheehan honest.
Buffalo State may have had a breakout season last year, but they lost two of their best players and are a very young team.
“Our youth,” Carriere said when asked what his biggest concern is. “We don’t have a whole lot of boys who have seen a lot of college hockey. Getting everybody on the same page will be the key.”
Last year was not a fluke, as Buffalo State will again make the playoffs. How well that young team gets on that same page will determine whether the Bengals can host a playoff game for the first time.