For Nick Barbera, winning ACHA nationals would be the culmination of over twenty years of playing hockey. After being a semi-finalist on last season’s Seawolves hockey team, Barbera knows what it will take to win it all.

“Nationals is really a different type of game. At nationals, you need to play more simple, you really just need to work hard,” the senior winger said. “When all the guys on our team work as hard as we can, there’s no other team that can match us with skill and talent.”

Hard work has paid off for the Stony Brook hockey team all season long, as the club had a 19-1 record in the ESCHL en route to a third consecutive division title.

Barbera has been a major reason for his team’s success, scoring 24 goals and 31 assists in 28 games played this season.

Barbera, a lifelong New York Rangers fan, says the NHL players he has been compared to the most are Rick Nash and Joe Thornton, first liners for the Rangers and San Jose Sharks, respectively.

“They’re big, they’re tall. They each have a long reach and are able to possess the puck and keep it away from opponents.” Listed at 6-foot-1-inch and 215 pounds, Barbera uses his size to his advantage in the offensive zone.

For Barbera, hockey has been an important part of his life from a very young age.

“Well my dad got me onto skates when I was about two. He used to just hold my hands and skate me around the rink, and then ever since then I was hooked.”

The Kings Park, N.Y. native played for the Long Island Royals, a junior hockey program, for over a decade throughout his childhood, winning the USA Hockey Junior B national championship in 2008.

After the sociology major graduates next winter, he may not be ready to hang up the skates yet.

“A few people have contacted me about possible trying out for a semi-pro team in Pennsylvania or Florida. I’d have to think about that,” Barbera said. “I would love to continue to play hockey as long as I could.”

With a chance to add another national championship to his resumé in Cleveland, Ohio in a few days, the thought of a post-college playing career is the least of Barbera’s concerns.

His focus is solely on earning the ACHA National Championship.

“[Winning the championship] would mean everything to me. I know how much our coaches have been dying to win and they know that this year is our year to win. We just have the right players and we can pull it off this year.”

For Barbera, the key to winning Nationals, in his mind, is all about effort. One quote he often thinks about is “Hard work will always beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Stony Brook hockey has the talent to succeed, and with leaders on the team like Barbera, its difficult to imagine that they will not put forth the hard work they need to on the ultimate stage.