By Shane Frederick
---- — MANKATO — If experience was a factor in Eric Means' search for a new Minnesota State women's hockey assistant, he got it.
Brett Bruininks, who had been the head coach at Division III Concordia (Moorhead) the last three seasons, was named Means' new assistant on Tuesday.
While coaching the Cobbers, Bruininks compiled a 43-22-14 record and was named the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's coach of the year in 2012 after guiding them to their first NCAA tournament appearance. He was also a finalist for Division III's national coach of the year after that season.
"He's won," Means said. "And he's coached women almost exclusively in his coaching career. He has an unbelievable energy level, and he's very personable. He'll relate well to our players. I'm happy to have him."
Bruininks was also an assistant coach for the Concordia men's team for one season (2009-10) and also had stints as an assistant with the Augsburg women's team (2008-09) and the Academy of Holy Angels girls high school team (2005-09).
The Minneapolis native is the son of former University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks. He played hockey at the University of Notre Dame from 1992 to 1996, appearing in 145 games over four seasons, and followed that up with a four-year minor-league professional career.
Bruininks has a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Minnesota and taught in the exercise science program while at Concordia.
"His background is going to make him a great coach and resource for our players," Means said.
This is the first change to Means' coaching staff since he was hired in 2009.
Bruininks replaces Jon Austin, whose contract was not renewed after last season. Shari (Vogt) Dickerman remains on staff. Means, whose original contract was due to expire following the season, received a two-year extension this spring.
The Mavericks went 10-21-5 last season, and Means is hopeful that the program is pointed in the right direction.
"We should be better," he said. "The girls are young, but they're going to be good. ... I wish it was August right now instead of June."