MASON CITY, Iowa – The Mason City Toros, proud members of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), are excited to announce the hiring of former NCAA Division I standout and European professional hockey player Nick Bruneteau to serve as the team’s head coach for the 2021-22 season. Bruneteau recently finished a six-year pro playing career that included stops in the United States as well as Norway, Germany and Italy.
“I’m thankful and excited for this opportunity to lead the Toros,” said Bruneteau. “It’s a winning organization with class from top to bottom. I’m excited to work with the players and plan to utilize my previous playing experience to focus on skill development, while continuing to build on the winning program Todd Sanden has built. I look forward to meeting all of the returning players, staff and fans, and can’t wait to get to Mason City.”
The Omaha, Nebraska native comes to North Iowa from the Alps Hockey League, spending the last two years with the SG Cortina club. He played four seasons of hockey at the famed Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minnesota, serving as the Sabres’ captain as a senior. Bruneteau went directly to the University of Vermont, notching 58 points for the Catamounts in a four-year collegiate career. After playing for the Reading Royals and Indy Fuel in the ECHL, he finished his pro career with five seasons in Europe, winning a Norwegian championship with the Stavanger Oilers in 2016. Bruneteau had signed to rejoin the ECHL as a player for the Kalamazoo Wings this past season, but ongoing concerns over COVID-19 forced the team to go dark for 2020-21.
The Bruneteau family name is well-known in American hockey circles, with two older brothers who also played NCAA Division I hockey. Brett Bruneteau played at North Dakota and Vermont, while Matt Bruneteau played two seasons of pro hockey in France and spent the last three years as an assistant coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. The family’s hockey lineage goes all the way back to grandfather Ed and great-uncle Mud, who combined to make nearly 600 NHL appearances and win three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1930s and ‘40s.
With North Iowa’s elevation to the North American Hockey League, the Toros will take over the Bulls’ place in the NA3HL and the rugged West Division. Before their move to the NAHL, the Bulls won a division championship in eight of their 10 NA3HL seasons, and national championships in four of their last nine.
“The Toros are fortunate to have someone of Nick’s hockey experience and background to helm our inaugural season,” said Tyler Shaffar, vice president of F&S Management, the ownership group overseeing the Bulls and Toros. “He will usher in a new era of NA3HL hockey in Mason City.”
The Bulls and Toros will both play their home games at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena, which became the first major piece of the city’s “River City Renaissance” project to be completed in December of 2019. The facility became an instant hit, with the Bulls drawing 1,585 fans per night in their first half-season downtown and an NA3HL-best 794 a game during the COVID-restricted 2020-21 season.
The hiring of Bruneteau’s assistant coach is currently being finalized, and North Iowa Bulls head coach and general manager Todd Sanden will continue to assist in building the Toros’ roster ahead of the 2021-22 season. The team is already active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and will launch its website soon.
Mason City Toros season tickets will go on sale shortly, with extra incentives for fans who purchase North Iowa Bulls season tickets for the 2021-22 NAHL season. For additional information, call 641-423-4625 or visit www.northiowabulls.com.