WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 23, 2012, 11:09 AM

Former UND star goalie pursuing law career

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — For Brad Eidsness, the professional hockey offers were rolling in.

By: BRAD ELLIOTT SCHLOSSMAN,Grand Forks Herald, Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — For Brad Eidsness, the professional hockey offers were rolling in.

He heard from teams in the East Coast Hockey League, the Central Hockey League and in Europe.

"I was really excited," said Eidsness, who recently finished his career at the University of North Dakota.

Then, a few weeks ago, he got the best offer yet — an opportunity to attend law school at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, one of the most prestigious programs in Canada.

After discussing it with his parents, his agent and some friends, the two-time all-Western Collegiate Hockey Association goaltender decided against playing professional hockey and will instead enroll in law school this fall.

"I definitely had opportunities to go play, but when U-Vic gave me an offer, that changed things," Eidsness said. "I started weighing a lot of things.

"I had really good memories of hockey the last four years. Wherever I would have gone, it wouldn't have been as good of an experience as the last four years," he said. "I wanted to go to law school eventually and I made the decision to do it a couple years earlier than I originally planned. The last four years would be tough to top. I decided it's time and I'm really excited to go to law school."

Eidsness always has been about more than hockey.

The Chestermere, Alta., product earned his undergraduate degree at UND in just three years. As a senior, he earned his master's in business administration.

Eidsness won the NCAA Elite 88 Award as the player with the best grade-point average at the NCAA Frozen Four two years ago, and he finished his college career by winning the WCHA's top honor, the student-athlete of the year award, last year.

"He's a guy that took advantage of every opportunity that was in front of him and made the most of every one of them," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "That includes on the ice, with his teammates, definitely in the classroom and maybe most importantly, he's a guy that really became part of the community and understood what it was to be part of the program and part of the community."

Eidsness, a fifth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2007, made an immediate impact with UND's program as a freshman. He quickly won the starting job and led UND to the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA champions.

As a sophomore, Eidsness backstopped a young team to the Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA playoff champs. UND became the first team in WCHA history to win six games in eight days en route to the Broadmoor Trophy. Eidsness played all of them.

Eidsness lost his starting job to Aaron Dell as a junior but still played in seven games and helped UND to the MacNaughton Cup, Broadmoor Trophy and NCAA Frozen Four. As a senior, he battled Dell for the No. 1 job all season, posting a .920 save percentage and a 2.17 goals-against average.

As UND made its surprising run down the stretch, Eidsness quietly was applying to law schools. He was accepted to the University of Calgary about the time of the WCHA Final Five, but he declined the offer.

"I was having a pretty good year and I was really enjoying hockey," he said. "I was planning to play pro hockey at that point."

But once the Victoria offer rolled in, Eidsness shifted gears. He talked to friends of the family who went to law school at Victoria and it received high praise. Eidsness said he plans to work in business law or tax law with his business background from his UND degrees.

"I won't be doing any criminal defense cases any time soon," he said with a laugh.

Eidsness said his time at UND made his decision to attend law school easier.

"I had a lot of great memories of hockey and North Dakota," he said. "I wanted to leave it at that in some ways. I was healthy. I had no long-term injuries. I felt that I could go out on my own terms and have great memories of hockey.

"The decision to go to North Dakota was a great decision and I wouldn't change anything," he said. "It's four years I will look back on really fondly. I made a lot of great friends. We got to experience good teams every year. We won a couple of different championships. It was an incredible place to play hockey with the support from the community and the state as a whole. That's one of the reasons I decided to move on. I couldn't have that same type of experience anywhere else."

Eidsness, who weighed turning pro after his junior year, said he made the right decision to come back to UND for his senior season.

"I was reminiscing about that this summer," he said, "and I told the younger guys that your senior year is your best year. It's a culmination of everything. You gain a big respect level for showing up every day for four years. My senior year was probably my most enjoyable year."

Hakstol said UND will greatly miss Eidsness — on and off the ice.

"He had his priorities pretty squarely in place and he stuck to them," Hakstol said. "A lot of that comes from his family. You don't have to look much further than his parents. I'm sure he made them proud as he did for all of us. The great part is that the really exciting things are still to come in the future for him."