When he left Wisconsin in 2005, Bernd Bruckler left as one of the most
accomplished goaltenders in Wisconsin hockey history. The All-American
put himself atop many of the goalie statistical categories in the
Badger record books and helped carry the program into the Mike Eaves
He joined the program with a bang, getting named to the 2002 All-WCHA
Rookie Team. A First-Team All-American in 2004, Bruckler earned
first-team all-league honors and earned recognition as the 2004 NCAA
East Regional Most Outstanding Player. He would go on to suit up for
Austria at the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation World
Championships, before returning for his senior season as an assistant
captain, a rarity for a goaltender. He would garner second-team
All-WCHA honors that year and finish his UW career as the program
leader with a 2.48 goals-against average and ranking second with a .916
save percentage. He still ranks among the top three in both categories,
and in the top five for career games played, victories, saves,
minutes played and shutouts.
Can you give us an update on where you are right at this moment Where do you call home
I am in Nizhni Novgorod, Russia right now where I am currently playing
for a team called Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod in the KHL. I signed a
two-year contract which will run until the spring of 2011. After
playing four seasons for the Espoo Blues in the top Finnish league
(SM-Liiga), I have bought a place in Helsinki with my girlfriend and I
call that home now.
What have you been doing since you left Madison
Well, after my senior year I played for a few months in the AHL and
ECHL before I took the job in Espoo and it has worked out great for me
there. I really enjoyed my time and also the hockey was high quality.
For people in the U.S., the pinnacle of hockey is the NHL. Do you have aspirations to make the league
I definitely have aspirations of playing in the NHL, but at the same
time I have been happy with the career path I took, going back to
Europe and playing here. This year is a big challenge for me since the
KHL is considered to be the best league in Europe. I will concentrate
on here for now, but in the back of my mind is certainly the goal of
playing in the NHL some day.
What has been your post-college hockey highlight so far
Last season we played in the Champions Hockey League with Espoo and it
was awesome. The level of play was great and so was the atmosphere at
all the games. Hockey fans around Europe really were very excited about
having the top teams from different countries compete against each
other. We made it to the semi-finals where we lost to the eventual
winner, ZSC Lions.
I know you've been involved with Austria's national team. What is your
place with the team and is Austria in the running for an Olympic spot
I have been the starting goalie now for the past few seasons, but
unfortunately we have struggled to establish our team in the A-pool.
Our biggest problem is that we are not very deep as a team and if our
top players cannot come to play for us, we usually are not able to hold
our own against the best hockey nations. As far as the Olympics, we
failed to qualify for those in a tournament last season (2-1 loss to
Germany in deciding game). It was a huge disappointment to me.
Do you ever make it back to Madison If you do, what are your must-see stops
I do spend a few weeks of my off-season in the U.S. and try to make it
to Madison at least for a few days every summer. Besides visiting some
friends, I usually try to make it to Memorial Union, the lakes, State
Street and, of course, the Kohl Center.
Do you keep in contact with your former teammates Coaches
Yes, I am in touch with a few guys, mostly Brad Winchester, Adam Burish
and Joe Pavelski. It is quite difficult with a nine-hour time change to
get a hold of guys but the internet gets the job done.
What is your favorite Badger hockey memory
It is tough to single out one moment but each game in the Kohl Center
was special and when the national anthem was played, I got goose bumps
Favorite Wisconsin memory in general
I loved my time in Wisconsin, but nothing compares to the feeling of
playing hockey at the Kohl Center and the pride you feel putting on
that jersey. Two other special moments stand out. When I signed my
letter of intent at the end of my official visit to Wisconsin and when
I got my diploma at the end of my senior year. I guess everything came