The Hudson Crusaders have spent the first part of their offseason adding two more names to what's becoming an extensive list of alumni playing in the college ranks.
Jake Bruhn (Chippewa Falls, Wis.) and Matt Lindquist (Thief River Falls, Minn.) both recently made college commitments.
Bruhn, who spent two years with Hudson transforming himself into a go-to scorer this past winter, will play for Marian University in the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association.
Lindquist, who used his brief stint with Hudson to nearly get the Crusaders back in the Tier III national tournament, is heading to Bethel University in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
"This is exciting for our organization, because this is what we are here to do," said Hudson head coach Ted Urschel. "We want our players to advance their playing careers, with a chance to play in college being the goal. Both of these two players made that happen for themselves."
Bruhn used the summer leading up to the 2011-12 season to pave his road to the college game. In his first year in Hudson, Bruhn dressed for 33 regular season games and finished with nine goals and 10 assists for a 19-point finish.
But after a summer of extensive training, he more than tripled that point total this past winter. Including the playoffs, Bruhn played in 53 games and racked up 70 points. In 48 regular season games, Bruhn was held scoreless just 10 times, and he would finish the year with 28 goals and 48 assists.
"I just made the decision to really commit myself to getting better last summer," Bruhn said. "I worked really hard during the offseason, and it paid off. It's pretty exciting to see how the year went, and now get this chance to play in college. I feel like earned it."
Lindquist had similar emotions, though there was an added twist in his journey. He had led the now-defunct Minnesota Wildcats in scoring the year prior, finishing with 42 points in 41 games, earning a shot at playing Tier II junior hockey in Minot, N.D. at the start of this past season.
But after mid-winter roster shake-up, Minot let Lindquist go - a move that Lindquist admitted was a devastating blow.
"I was really down when I found out," he said. "I worked hard to get to that point, and then it was gone. But I wanted to keep playing, so I kept trying to make myself a better player, and it worked out in the end."
The Crusaders had chosen Lindquist in the Wildcats dispersal draft the summer, and he ended up landing in Hudson in early January.
He would only play the final 11 regular season games with the Crusaders, but he used the time to dominate the stat sheet, totaling 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists), before adding four more goals and five assists in Hudson's five postseason games.
"You really have to give Matt credit, because he came in here and really played hard," Urschel said. "He was disappointed, but he didn't show it. He went out and proved what type of player he is."
Actually, that opportunity came recently, when both Lindquist and Bruhn earned the chance to call themselves college hockey players, and there could be more to follow.
Urschel said as many has a handful others could be finalizing college deals soon.
With Bruhn and Lindquist off to school, Hudson now has had 23 college commitments in the past five years.
"We can make that number even bigger," Urschel said. "We want every one of our players to go on and play in college."