To cap off a successful junior season, Moorhead's Taylor Brueske earns Division I commitment
Brueske, a junior center who posted 34 points in 31 games this season, announced her commitment to play at the Division I level
MOORHEAD — The Moorhead girls hockey team completed in one of their best seasons in program history in 2022-23. The squad finished with a 22-9 overall record and finished their year by winning the consolation championship at the state tournament.
Junior Taylor Brueske is part of the reason for the team's success.
Brueske, a 5-foot-7 center, announced her commitment to play Division I hockey at Quinnipiac University the day after after Moorhead's last game of the 2022-23 season.
The Fargo native started to draw NCAA eyes this past offseason when she competed in the Team USA 16/17's national camp. Brueske then made sure to reach out to many different collegiate programs to get her name out there and to show that she was passionate about playing at the next level. One team that remembered Brueske's name was Quinnipiac University.
The 17-year-old skater liked what she saw after taking an official visit to the campus in Hamden, Connecticut. She then announced her commitment to the program the very next day after her junior season ended.
"The overall culture and the team dynamic was huge, getting to know some of the girls on the team and the coaching staff was something that made me feel comfortable," said Brueske.
"They kind of have that big school feel but they have a little bit smaller class sizes and the campus wasn't too big or confusing," she added. The Bobcats have an enrollment of about 6800 undergraduate students.
Plus, as someone who hasn't visited the east coast much, the Moorhead skater is excited to experience something completely new for college.
"It's always good to branch out, especially at that point in my life," she joked. "It'll be nice to branch out from my little Minnesota bubble."
I am extremely honored and blessed to announce my commitment to play Division 1 hockey and further my education at Quinnipiac University! Thank you to my coaches, teammates, friends, and family for helping this dream come true! #gobobcats pic.twitter.com/ML50yq2mfb— taylor brueske (@taylorbrueske) February 26, 2023
Brueske grew up just across the state border in Fargo. Being from a city that has many hockey players and a big hockey culture, it just seemed natural to grow up playing the sport.
"It was something that my older brother started out doing, it was kind of just something that my parents got us into," said Brueske on why she wanted to play hockey in the first place. "Watching my brother play was something that got me excited about the game."
The forward originally competed for the Fargo Freeze before moving to the Moorhead area for high school. After showing her talent out on the ice at an early age, Brueske joined the Spuds varsity team as just a freshman.
"You're playing with girls that are up to three years older than you, so the speed was obviously a little bit different," she said.
In her first season, Brueske posted 10 points over 18 games. She then worked hard each and every offseason to improve her game by playing in summer tournaments, attending the High Performance camps, shooting tons of pucks, and working on stickhandling skills, which translated directly to the ice later on.
In her sophomore season, the center posted 21 points over 28 games, and then was posting over a point-per-game average this past year as a junior with 16 goals and 18 assists (34 total points) over 31 games.
"The more work you put in the more confidence you have, so I'm sure that helped me out a lot this season," she said.
"I have a quick shot I can get off and I think my physicality is something that I can bring to each and every game," she added. "Playing aggressive, my size definitely helps me out. I'm a center that plays all 200-feet and backchecks hard."
Coming into 2022-23, Moorhead had their eyes set on winning the 8AA section final after losing the match 2-1 to Brainerd/Little Falls the season prior.
"It was really devastating, just to see how close we were to getting to experience the state tournament, that was definitely a feeling that we didn't want to feel again. That really fueled our motivation this year," Brueske said.
The Spuds defeated Roseau 3-1 this season for the team's first trip to the state tournament since 2006 .
"It was super exciting, not only for everyone that got to be a part of it on the ice, but even just our community and fans that were there, and parents, and people that used to play Moorhead hockey. It was cool to see people rally around us," said the junior.
The team then advanced to the state tournament but unfortunately lost their quarterfinal match, 7-0, to Gentry Academy, who then went on to win the Class AA title later that week.
"It was disappointing," said Brueske. "But we knew we still had the opportunity to come back home with a little bit of hardware ... It was kind of just where we had to shift our focus and I think we did a really good job of rebounding after that loss."
The Spuds then won their next two games to become the consolation champions at the 2023 tournament. Moorhead has only won that title one other time — back in 2001— and has never finished better than thatin girls program history.
"Now that we know what we're capable of, and breaking the seal on that 17 years that Moorhead hadn't been to the state tournament, I think that that really is going to be the new standard for the new girls we have coming in and just our team overall for next year," said Brueske.
"Obviously the end goal is to get there [the state tournament], but day-to-day it's just keep bringing the effort and try to get better each and every day, especially in preparation for playing college hockey," she added.
The Moorhead skater will have one more year left of high school hockey before heading out east to play for Quinnipiac. When she's not playing hockey, she competes for the Moorhead softball team where she typically plays shortstop or outfield positions, or she can be found enjoying the lake life in the summer.