Brad Eidsness had plenty of opportunities to play pro hockey. He choose going to law school instead.
This type of thing doesn’t happen often, and I wrote a story about it for Sunday’s Herald. Read the story, which has quotes from Eidsness and coach Dave Hakstol here.
This development made me think back to the first feature I ever wrote about Eidsness during the first semester of his freshman season. His coach from the Okotoks Oilers told me that Eidsness is “not your typical kid.”
That certainly turned out to be true. Below is the feature. I thought it was fun to go back and read it after his career ended. Not much changed about Eidsness from then and now.
Grand Forks Herald (ND)
November 27, 2008
Not your ‘typical’ goalie
Author: Brad Schlossman; Herald Staff Writer
Okotoks (Alta.) Oilers coach Dan McDonald heard Brad Eidsness engaging teammates in an intense discussion last year in the back of the team bus.
When McDonald went to investigate, he found a conversation that he’s never before heard on a hockey trip.
“They weren’t talking about who they were playing that night or girls or anything like that,” McDonald said. “He and a couple of other intellectual kids were discussing how the universe works. They would get into these kinds of discussions all the time. They had these books that they would always be reading and then they would get into discussions.
“Brad is a very bright person who is well-versed in many things in the world. He likes to learn things. He likes to learn what life is about and why things work the way they do. He’s a smart guy, more mature than his years. He’s not your typical kid.”
The UND men’s hockey team is finding that out early this season.
Not only is Eidsness emerging as a standout freshman goalie, he’s also well known in the locker room as one of the most colorful personalities on the Sioux team.
When his roommate, Brett Hextall, found out about the discussions Eidsness used to have during his junior days, Hextall nodded his head: “Typical Eids.”
“He knows a lot of useless facts,” Hextall said. “Every-where we go, he’s asking ‘What’s the population of this town?’ and ‘What is the industry here?’ It’s all of those weird things. He finds weird facts in magazines and he never forgets them. Then, he’ll run around telling everyone about them.”
That’s the other thing about Eidsness – he loves talking.
“He’ll talk to the wall if there’s no one else to talk to,” Hextall says. “One time, we had a flight really early in the morning, and I sat down and was looking forward to getting some sleep. Then I hear this guy talking two rows behind me and I didn’t recognize his voice. Then, I hear Eids talking to him and I’m like, ‘Great, here we go, these two idiots are going to be talking the whole flight.’ ”
When the team got back to the arena, Eidsness told Hextall about the older man who ended up doing most of the talking on the flight.
“Maybe it was God getting back at me,” Eidsness said.
Intro to college
Eidsness graduated from high school in spring 2007, but he didn’t coast into college.
He was one of only two players on the Okotoks Oilers who took college classes last year in his spare time. It wasn’t an easy load, either: macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics and Eastern religion.
The son of Calgary-area accountants, Eidsness is majoring in business entrepreneurship at UND.
“I generally enjoy school,” Eidsness said. “Last year, I took some college courses and really enjoyed it. It’s something that takes your mind away from the rink a little bit and you get to look into other things that are pretty interesting.”
His quest for knowledge is the source of good-natured ribbing from teammates sometimes.
Any time Eidsness utters the words, “I don’t know,” it quickly circulates amongst the team.
Smarts on the ice
McDonald says Eidsness is just as smart on the ice as he is off of it.
“He can give you all the stats you need about the league,” McDonald said. “He’s got a knack for numbers and he dedicated himself to knowing who were the best shooters, what their strengths are, their speed levels, how they shoot the puck and where they shoot it from.
“He studies other teams and his read of the game is exceptional. Sometimes, a new goalie to a league will get caught up in following the puck and not read a play. He doesn’t get fooled.”
Eidsness appears to be taking over the role as UND’s top goaltender. He’s played in nine straight games, the most by a freshman since Karl Goehring appeared in 10 straight in 1997-98.
On the season, Eidsness has a 2.85 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. But it’s clear he’s becoming more comfortable with his role. In his last four appearances, Eidsness is 1-1-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
It is the type of performance that Hextall expected to see out of Eidsness.
Last season, Hextall and Eidsness were teammates on Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. They won the gold medal.
“I was really impressed with him that whole tournament,” Hextall said. “I heard a lot of great things about him before that and when we got there, he backed it all up.
“I’m not surprised that he’s an impact player for us here. He has the ability to be a big-time goaltender. The only thing that surprised me was that he got out to a little bit of a slow start. Now that he’s getting comfortable, I think people are starting to see what he’s really capable of.”