BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It didn't take long for the Buffalo Bandits to realize this team is the real deal.
"We just knew right from the get go we had something special," said Dhane Smith.
Chase Fraser added, "If we all stuck together and came together as a team like we have, we'll be successful."
The turnaround for the Bandits is impressive, especially when you consider this team was at the bottom of the standings a year ago.
"We kind of started to see, wow, our defense is extremely good," Josh Byrne said. "Our goalie is also extremely good and then our offense was starting to click like it's never clicked before."
All three phases have clicked and the Bandits finished the regular season with a league best record, but the coaching staff is using the NHL Playoffs and the upsets we've seen as a reminder that past success doesn't mean anything.
"We had a great season but we have to put that in the past," Smith said. "We beat New England twice in the regular season but that means nothing now. They're a great team and we're looking forward to the challenge, two great teams going at it but luckily we're in front of the best fans in the league so that'll help a lot."
And thanks to all those wins, the Bandits own home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
"We can't give enough credit to our fans and how awesome they've been," Byrne said. "It's really an unspeakable thing."
There's still a long way to go but the Bandits are ready for a playoff run and are hoping they can add a new banner in the rafters at KeyBank Center.
"If we could bring a championship back and try to get a good run going here it would mean not only a lot to us as players but to the whole fans as well," Ian MacKay said.
"The city deserves everything," Smith said. "We deserve a championship, I know it's been since 2008, we had a close one in 2016 but we're excited for the challenge."