Eric Peterson, Published January 10 2012
Peterson: Progress comes quick for Bruininks
In his second year as head coach, Bruininks has the Cobbers nationally ranked for the first time in program history and near the top of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I was thrilled with our progress thus far,” said Bruininks, whose dad Bob Bruininks is a former University of Minnesota president.
The Cobbers are ranked No. 10 in this week’s USCHO.com Division III poll. Concordia
(8-2-1, 4-1-1 MIAC) is tied for second in the conference standings.
Bruininks was hired as interim head coach prior to last season and led the team to a 15-8-4 record, setting the program record for victories in a season.
Initially, the plan was to have him be head coach for one season. However, midway through that first year his interim tag was removed. He wanted to make sure he could balance the coaching along with being an assistant professor and director of the human performance laboratory.
“We found out I was able to do both,” Bruininks said.
For all Concordia has done on the ice in his brief time with the program, Bruininks wants more.
His vision is to build the program into a perennial championship contender, whether it’s a MIAC crown or national championship.
“In my mind, I think we’ve got a long way to go,” said Bruininks, who played college hockey at Notre Dame. “I think we have the base to do that with the group of kids that we have.”
Due to his long flowing hair, Bruininks’ players have affectionately called him “Fabio.”
“He just laughs,” said Cobbers senior Katelyn Dold, who recently became the third player in program history to reach 100 career points. “He loves his hair. He won’t cut it.”
Dold said last season Bruininks was going to cut his hair if the team won the MIAC championship. She said a similar wager hasn’t been made this season at this point.
“That’s what we always shoot for that one day we will get him to cut that hair of his,” said Dold, who leads the team with 18 points through 11 games.
There is substance to go along with his style. Dold said Bruininks seems to always have a new drill every practice that can be applied to certain game situations.
“His coaching style is he basically has a method for every certain thing he does,” Dold said.
Bruininks has a rich hockey background. He played his high school hockey in Minnesota at Edina before spending two seasons in the USHL.
After his time at Notre Dame the 6-foot-4, 235-pound forward played pro hockey for three different organizations, including the Philadelphia Flyers.
Bruininks played for coaching legends like Bob O’Connor and Willard Ikola. One of his older brothers played hockey at Colorado College.
“It doesn’t leave your blood,” Bruininks said. “I always wanted to be part of the hockey in some shape or form.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found