In the aftermath of seeing his collegiate career come to an abrupt end, Brandon Biro has kept things in perspective.
Biro signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. A week ago, he was still preparing to captain top-seeded Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament. Biro was among 10 graduating seniors on a roster that was poised to play in the NCAA Tournament regardless of the outcome in their conference bracket.
As the world increased efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19, both the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament were canceled last Thursday. Just like that, Biro's time at Penn State was over.
"Some things are bigger than hockey," Biro said by phone Wednesday. "So, it was unfortunate but understandable."
Biro grew with the Penn State program. He arrived as an 18-year-old freshman from Alberta for the 2016-17 season, adjusting to life away from his family for the first time. The Nittany Lions made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament that same year, their fifth in Division I.
In four years, Biro etched his name among Penn State's program leaders in goals (T-8th), assists (3rd), and points (4th). Having already played in two NCAA Tournaments, he helped lead the team to a regular season Big Ten championship this season, which had set the stage for a third and final try at the Frozen Four.
Though that chance never came, he points out the positives from his time in State College. He met his best friends at Penn State, a group that includes current Rochester Americans forward Brett Murray. He's graduating with a degree in business management.
Plus, when one door closed, another opened. Biro said the process to sign a professional contract went faster than expected. His advisor quickly began speaking to teams, including one that made a strong impression two summers ago.
That team was the Sabres, who invited Biro to be a participant at their annual development camp in June 2018. He was an undrafted invite at a camp that included three top-10 picks, including the No. 1 selection in that year's draft, Rasmus Dahlin. Yet he remembers feeling like he belonged.
"You were just treated like a professional even though I was an undrafted free agent who didn't really have any ties to the organization," Biro said. "Just the way they treated everyone was awesome. It was something I wanted to be a part of."
Biro, a left winger, describes himself as a 200-foot player who uses his speed to create space and his hockey sense to play creatively on offense. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said he expects Biro to bring "skill, hockey sense, and character" to the organization.
"I feel like there's a good opportunity for myself to come in and prove myself as a player and get an opportunity to play," Biro said. "I think it was just a good fit both on the ice and off the ice."