2005-06: Bruess scored 10 goals with 17 assists and was +2 with 108 PIM in 56 games for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. He scored four of his goals on the power play. Bruess committed to playing college hockey at Minnesota State.
2006-07: Bruess played 37 games as a freshman for a Minnesota State team that finished eighth in the WCHA. He scored 3 goals with 11 assists and had 102 PIM.
2007-08: Bruess found his niche with the Mavericks as a two-way forward and penalty killer in his sophomore season. He scored 9 goals, 3 short-handed, and had 21 assists with a +22 plus/minus. Bruess’ 30 points led Minnesota State while his 54 PIM were second on the team but a big improvement from 2006-07. Minnesota State was one of the turnaround stories for the year – finishing tied for fourth during the regular season and then battling Minnesota in a three-game, first-round WCHA playoff series in which all three games were decided in overtime.
2008-09: Bruess did not enjoy as much success his junior year as Minnesota State fell back to eighth in the standings and the effective aggressive game that he played in 2007-08 seemed to revert to the undisciplined play of his freshman year. Bruess, after a promising start that included four points in the team’s first five games, including a 2-goal game at North Dakota on October 18, and then two-goal games at Alaska-Anchorage and Michigan Tech in November, struggled offensively for much of the season and finished with just five assists. At the same time, his reckless play frequently led to trips to the penalty box. As a result of two kneeing penalties – one a major – plus a roughing penalty in a game with St. Cloud State on March 14, he was suspended for the first game of the WCHA playoffs. Bruess finished the season with 12 goals and 5 assists and was +13 with 119 PIM in 35 games. Bruess decided to forego his senior year of college hockey and signed a free agent contract with the Washington Capitals in March.
2009-10: After attending Capitals camp, Bruess opened the season with Washington’s AHL affiliate Hershey but was sent to ECHL South Carolina and spent the rest of the season with the Stingrays. Bruess scored his first professional goal with the Bears on November 20 against Binghamton and had 1 goal with 1 assist and was +3 with 15 PIM in fourteen games with Hershey. Playing in the ECHL, Bruess scored 8 goals with 17 assists and was +11 with 74 PIM in 46 games. In the ECHL playoffs, Bruess scored 1 goal and was +2 with 10 PIM as the Stingrays lost to Cincinnati in a five-game series.
Bruess doesn't have a lot of subtlety in his game. He works hard, is an aggressive checker, and uses his quickness to make things difficult on opponents. He's a hard hitter and self-described agitator who will crash the net - and sometimes the goaltender - to make plays. Despite his lack of polish and a limited understanding of positional play, he has adequate stick handling skills to control the puck in tight areas and uses his quickness down low in the offensive zone. Bruess works hard to address his deficiencies. He is conscientious regarding his responsibilities defensively and has been a positive plus/minus player throughout his career.
Bruess will be in his second Capitals' camp seeking to secure a spot with Hershey in the AHL and possibly make enough of an impression to warrant a look from the big club in case of the need for emergency, energy line fill ins. Long-term, Bruess' potential to play at the NHL level is limited, although there are Sean Avery and Daniel Carcillo-types in the league. Bruess is that type of player but a more likely scenario for him would be a successful career at the AHL/ECHL level with a late-season NHL call-up or two on non-playoff teams.