Stern grabbed a late equaliser for the Black Cats last night and Bruce said: "He was a great servant here and one of my all-time favourites I have managed here.
"When I saw him warming up and the reception the crowd gave him I feared he might have an impact. But before he got there, we believe there was definitely a foul.
"But I think after looking at the two games we are better equipped than we were the last time we were in the Premier League. I am really pleased with what I've seen."
Sunderland boss Roy Keane also said: "I knew he'd score, because in the corridor here I saw a picture of him scoring as a Birmingham player. A lot of players go back to their old club and have a tendency to score.
"It usually happens, so I was confident he would score. I keep saying it is not a coincidence to score so many late goals, because the desire and determination was there for all to see."