Brandon Kruse reflects on his past, looks to future during senior season

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Brandon Kruse has been great for most of his collegiate career.   

Dawn Violet Todd and Dawn Violet Todd

Collegiate sports teams are only as strong as their senior class. These are the players that bring skill, experience and leadership to a group. BGSU Hockey is no different.

The Falcons’ class of 2021 is packed with players that have proven themselves in their time at Bowling Green. Among this set of elite talent is Brandon Kruse, who’s been hitting above his weight for most of his collegiate career.

“When I was younger, I always played a year above, so I was playing with older guys,” Kruse said. “Then, my senior year of high school I was playing against 21-year-olds when I was 17, always playing at a higher level. It really developed me for college, consistently working out and training with older guys, I push myself every day. Obviously when I got to college, I’m playing against men, even guys six to seven years older than me.”

Kruse, from Saline, Michigan, said Bowling Green was the perfect place for him to be.

“I always just dreamed of playing college hockey somewhere … Good graduation rate, business school, (I) liked where the program was headed. Me and my family thought it was a good decision,” he said.

Since coming in as a freshman, Kruse has played a crucial part of BGSU’s offense. The 2019-20 season saw the Falcons score 119 goals, tying for eight in all of Division I men’s hockey. Kruse scored or assisted on over a quarter of those goals, but as he said, his game is more than just scoring.

“Over the years I’ve been here I’ve started to develop good defensive habits,” he said. “Watching older guys in senior classes before me taught me a lot about consistency. If you have one bad rep or one bad drill, you’ve gotta let it go and continue to move.”

Consistency is certainly something Kruse brings to the table as a player. Since 2017, the Falcons have been in the top half of the WCHA standings. They’ve been to the WCHA Championships, as well as the NCAA regional tournament. He says he owes that in large part to former coach Chris Bergeron, who was influential in his early time at BGSU.

“When I first got here with Coach Bergeron he was very strict and sometimes made you feel a little nervous with his presence,” Kruse said. “But he taught me a lot in how to be a motivated player. He really pushed me. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without him.”

Like any senior student athlete, the final year is a bittersweet one. COVID-19 threatened to take away the final season of play from an entire class of student athletes.

“I want to have a good senior season,” Kruse said. “With COVID-19, every day you’ve got to expect the unexpected at this point. In terms of what games you may or may not play, you can’t take it for granted.”

Thankfully, BGSU Hockey has been able to move forward with their season safely, having played 18 games so far with no known cases of COVID on the Falcons’ roster. Not only are they playing, but they are finding quite a lot of success, being 14-4 overall and ranked #5 in the nation by the USCHO.

Kruse himself is having a stellar start, too, having netted nine goals already and showing no signs of slowing down.

He’s set to graduate this spring with his degree in Business Marketing. His talents on the ice have impressed at the NHL level, as well. He was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018, and is excited about being a part of a team at the highest level of hockey.

“I want to end my senior year on a good note hockey-wise, graduate with my degree, then hopefully within a year sign with the Vegas Golden Knights and start playing for them or for their AHL team,” Kruse said.

The Falcons will take to the ice this weekend in a home series versus Michigan Tech, playing at the Slater Family Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday.