UND men's hockey: Bruneteau an iconic hockey name in Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. -- The first time this city had a high level of hockey was 1939, when a roof collapse in Duluth caused the minor-league team to move to Nebraska.

Brett Bruneteau
UND's Brett Bruneteau (left) battles with Minnesota State-Mankato's Ben Youds over the puck during the game last week in the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

OMAHA, Neb. -- The first time this city had a high level of hockey was 1939, when a roof collapse in Duluth caused the minor-league team to move to Nebraska.

One of its first stars was Ed Bruneteau, a right winger who later played beside Hall of Famers Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Terry Sawchuk on the Detroit Red Wings.

Years later, Ed's brother, Mud, became one of the first accomplished NHLers to return to Omaha after a lengthy NHL career that included two Stanley Cups.

When it came time to add a men's hockey program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the 1990s, the school looked to Ed's son, Rick, to help get it started. So, Rick joined a committee and played an active role in launching the state's first Division I hockey team.

"Rick (a surgeon) was a very important cog and very valuable in getting the program started," said Mike Kemp, the program's first head coach.


This weekend, Nebraska-Omaha will play its first marquee home series as a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and perhaps it's fitting that a Bruneteau will be involved.

Brett Bruneteau -- Rick's son and Ed's grandson -- is a sophomore forward for the Sioux. He'll be going back to a city where his last name is synonymous with hockey.

"They are iconic in town," Kemp said of the Bruneteaus. "It's a very well-known name. Outside of Motto McLean, they are probably the most well-known hockey family in town.

"Ed and Mud have their pictures in the community rink here in town. Both are in our community hockey hall of fame. They were both very visible."

The Bruneteaus are becoming visible around the college hockey world now as well. Brett has brothers at Lake Superior State and Vermont. A fourth brother is a senior at Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep School in Faribault, Minn.

Brett's parents, Rick and Mitzi, won't have to travel this weekend, but Brett thinks they will have some mixed emotions.

"I'm sure he's going to root for our team a little bit more," Brett said. "But I know he has a sense of pride with UNO and all he's done to get that program moving."

Kemp said he'll also have a sense of pride in watching a Bruneteau this weekend, even though he's playing against the Mavericks.


"I've known Brett since elementary school," Kemp said. "He's absolutely a tremendous human being. He's a great kid who comes from an outstanding family. They are wonderful people. The kids all have grown up to be good hockey players, excellent students and better people."

Sioux confident

in both goalies

Goaltender Aaron Dell played only five games a year ago, as he was inconsistent and unpredictable as a freshman.

The Sioux have noticed a much more comfortable Dell this year, and he's been rewarded with most of the starts. Dell has played in nine games so far, while Brad Eidsness -- who played 41 games in each of the last two seasons -- has only seen the net four times.

Dell has responded by posting a 6-3 record and a 2.38 goals-against average.

"I think he's just in general more comfortable," teammate Brad Malone said. "In the locker room, he's kind of a quiet kid and he took a little longer than some guys to warm up to guys. He's coming into his own on and off the ice. It's showing up on the ice. He's playing well for us."

UND coach Dave Hakstol said Dell's practice habits have improved, too.


"That's something that was up and down last year," Hakstol said. "Mentally, he's more settled in this year than he was at this time last year. He's improved a little bit and refined some pretty good raw skills. He still has a long ways to go until he's tapped out."

Dell's success doesn't mean that Eidsness has been forgotten, though.

"He's probably going through one of the toughest stretches an athlete can go through," Hakstol said. "There's only one way you can do that: Put your nose to the grindstone and work, do whatever is necessary. You have to go to the rink and be a great teammate. Brad's done all of those things. He's doing the things he should be doing.

"Brad's going to get back in the net, and when he does, he'll be ready to play."

Captain Chay Genoway added: "We've got two goalies who are playing well in practice right now, so that's good for our team."


- The Sioux have set up a Movember website so fans can see their mustaches and donate to a charity that benefits the fight against prostate cancer. View their page at

- Omaha coach Dean Blais said that Grand Forks natives Alex Simonson and Tony Turgeon have been injured. Turgeon has played in two games for the Mavericks. Simonson has yet to play. UND senior defenseman Jake Marto teamed with Simonson (and Simonson's brother, Morgan) at Grand Forks Central.


- Officials at Qwest Arena will be handing out 2,500 cowbells, dubbed Blais Bells, to fans not wearing green. Omaha also is expected to honor its two-millionth fan this weekend.

- One of Blais' assistants in Omaha is Crookston native Mike Hastings.

- Genoway is one point shy of 100. He is looking to be the first UND defenseman to reach that number since Curtis Murphy in 1997-98.

Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to .

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
What To Read Next
Get Local