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'You don’t get to do this very often, if ever"; former Fargo Force teammates Oliver, Demers reunite to lead team

Fifteen years ago Roseau native Nick Oliver and Grafton’s Chad Demers paved the way in the first ever season for the Fargo Force. Now these former teammates are reunited again in a way they never thought would happen.

Chad Demers and Nick Oliver scouting at the Fargo Force All-Star week

FARGO– It may be the off-season, but that doesn’t make it any less real for Nick Oliver that he is the one calling the shots for the Fargo Force.

“Growing up, you always think you’re going to play in the NHL, right? Every player does. I always knew in the back of my mind, growing up with a father who coached, and being around athletics, I think I always knew that was something I would like to do. Then as I got through it I realized, ‘Hey I’m not going to play in the NHL’, so I got into the coaching piece,” said Oliver.

Oliver saw first hand the Fargo Force program rise from the ground up, when he joined the team in 2008 during his high school career in Roseau.

“From day one with the Force in 2008 with Dean Blais. We were practicing over at the Moorhead Sports Center, they were still building this place (Scheels Arena),” said Oliver.

By his side during Oliver’s entire juniors career, was Grafton native Chad Demers.

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“I actually played hockey against Nick when he was in Crookston, so a long, long time ago, before he ever moved to Roseau. So I remember him from those days. Then played against him in Roseau and then we did the high school elite league together,” said Demers.

“It goes back a ways. He was growing up in Grafton, I was in Roseau. He was one year older, he was ‘90 and I was ‘91. So we would have played with each other, kind of coming through some high school all-star teams. Naturally two kind of small town kids hit it off right away and had a lot in common and valued a lot of the same things. So we were pretty close from day one,” said Oliver.

It’s only fitting that 15-years later, Nick is returning to lead the next generation of hockey players as the Force’s eighth head coach.

“It didn’t take long. It was something that… I knew I was motivated to do it. For me, this place it meant, it was a little different. It felt different. I trust the people here. I know the people here do a great job, and they care about the players. I always knew if I was going to take on a challenge like this, I would want it to be in the right situation with the right people and have the right environment for our players and I think we check all of those boxes,” said Oliver.

When it came to building the staff around him, Nick knew immediately who he wanted by his side.

“Just like it didn’t take me long to decide to come here, that was probably my next thought in my head. I need to find a way to get Chad to come back to Fargo. “I’m so glad that we were able to do that. Deep down, I always knew if I was going to be a head coach, he was going to be the first person that I was going to call. So for us, that’s special that we get to go through that together, but more importantly. I know I’m getting a great person, who is a great hockey coach. Our players are going to be lucky to have Chad with them this year,” said Oliver.

“Me knowing how good he (Chad) is at his job, I think that's a huge piece for me. So as a first time head coach, you want to surround yourself with the best people that you can, and people that you trust and people that are going to be loyal, and Chad is all of that,” Oliver added.

Demers spent three years in Fargo as an assistant before returning to his alma mater, Air Force. If he was going to come back to Fargo, there’s only one guy he would do it for.

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“He reached out to me as he was going through the process before he got hired. So I kind of knew it was something that was possibly coming. When he called me, when he finally accepted the job, I had kind of been plotting it out in my head for a while of what could be. Ultimately it was too good of a situation to pass up and what a better guy to work with doing it and yeah it’s just going to be great,” said Demers.

What could be, quickly became reality for Oliver and Demers, they were going to lead the way for Fargo.

“I just told him, you know what, you don’t get to do this very often if ever in coaching or in this profession. That you actually get to spend every single day with someone that you consider one of your best friends and someone that you’re super close with and you know his wife. So that piece of it doesn’t come around often and I think that was something that both of us are taking a lot of pride in and going to have a lot of fun with,” said Oliver.

Now two former rivals, turned teammates, and best friends, are back in the building they built. They’re still working to find success, only this time behind the bench.

“There were a number of factors at play, and that being one of the biggest ones was to come and do this with Nick and do it together. We’re going to have a blast.,” said Demers.

Nick and Chad finished their first task as a coaching staff last week with the Force’s All-Star camp, practices will begin later this summer.

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