116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The path to becoming a goaltender was unique in the case of Bruno Bruveris.
Growing up as a kid in Latvia, Bruveris loved going to the rink to watch his older brother, Ricards, play hockey. For some reason, he got it into his mind that goalie should be his position, even though Ricards wasn’t one.
“I always wanted to be a goalie,” he said.
But there was a catch before he could become one.
“My coach told me I should be the best skater on the team, then I would get my goalie equipment,” Bruveris said. “Back in those days, you had to have enough money to buy all that goalie equipment. I earned that. After two years of skating, I just became a goalie.”
And eventually a top-notch one.
The 19-year-old first-year Cedar Rapids RoughRider made his United States Hockey League debut last week at the league’s Fall Classic in Pittsburgh by recording a 31-save shutout against Lincoln. The RoughRiders won the game with an overtime goal.
“It was my first time in a big city in the U.S., especially with it being the Pittsburgh Penguins, an NHL team, that was a good experience for me. The atmosphere was great, awesome. I loved that,” Bruveris said. “I mean, we’re all together as a team. We work our asses off, we earned that. Good team spirit, we never gave up. All those opportunities. We work to the end. Big first team win.”
Bruveris was C.R.’s fourth-round pick in the 2021 USHL Draft, Phase II. He has represented his country at international tournaments, even played in two Kontinental Hockey League (the top pro league in Russia) games for Dynamo Riga.
But it always has been his goal to come to North America to play. His future is uncertain, as he’s open to college hockey or perhaps some day the pros.
All he knows is he’s here, and he’s loving it.
“First of all, I want to thank Coach (Mark Carlson) for the opportunity to come here and show myself, (to) play hockey in the USA,” Bruveris said. “That was my dream. My goal was to play here. I always was dreaming from childhood to get here to the United States and play hockey. It’s now happening. It’s awesome.”
Bruveris described himself as an athletic butterfly goaltender who needs to work on the “small things.” He also was in net for C.R.’s lone preseason win last month, though a true No. 1 hasn’t been determined.
“It’s kind of different. I’ve never had this experience before,” Bruveris said. “But it’s been a month now, and I’m feeling good about it. For sure I am missing home, my people. But these are new opportunities … I am so happy to be here.”
Bruveris lives in a billet home with teammates Joe Fleming, Doug Grimes and Cooper Flinton. His English is tremendous, even though he’d never had to use it.
Coming here changed that. Fellow Riga native Martins Lavins, a forward, also is on the active RoughRiders roster.
Riga is the capital of Latvia.
“I know English,” Bruveris said. “We had English lessons in school. The first time, the first week here was pretty hard for me to start talking. But right now, I’m feeling comfortable and really confident in myself.”
That seems to be both off and on the ice.
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