Photos by Hillary Ehlen, mJoy Photography/Fargo Force and UND Athletics
NO EADES-Y JOURNEY
Everywhere the coaching carousel drops Cary Eades, success is sure to follow. It could be found in his upbringing as a hockey player. His Penticton Vees were British Columbia Hockey League runner-ups in his only season with the junior team. Then, in college, he helped raise two championship banners at UND in 1980 and ’82, co-captaining one of the strongest UND teams in history as a senior.
Eades’ success could also be linked to the man who recruited him to UND. John “Gino” Gasparini found Eades as a midget player in a tournament in Portland, Oregon, back in the 1970s. Gino was also the same man who called Eades back to Grand Forks while Eades lay in a hospital bed after breaking his neck, an injury that would cut his St. Louis Blues career short.
“Gino was a heck of a salesman,” Eades recalls. “He could sell an ice cube to an Inuit.”
Eades acknowledges the privilege he’s had in terms of mentorship. It starts with his father, Pete Eades, who was a pretty good player himself and passed his love for hockey—and the Green Bay Packers—on to his son.
Another father figure entered Eades’ life when UND assistant coach Gino found him at that tournament in Portland. Like Pete Eades, the winningest coach in UND hockey history hasn’t stopped mentoring the current Fargo Force head coach.
Building a Legacy
Now in his third year as the head coach and general manager of the Fargo Force, Eades’ coaching career has been highlighted by multiple championships throughout its 33-year history.
Eades helped raise the 1987 championship banner as an assistant coach under his mentor at UND. His first championship as a head coach came with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints in 1993. Eades headed north after that season to take the head coaching job at the high school level in Warroad, Minnesota. He won nearly 80 percent of his games there and won three Minnesota State Class “A” championships.
Eades made his triumphant return to his alma mater in 2004 but this time under head coach Dave Hakstol. After eight seasons with two WCHA league title and four WCHA Final Five Playoff championships, Eades’ contract ended in 2012. His commitment to coaching never wavered after leaving UND for the second time.
“Coaching is my life,” Eades said. “When I first left UND in 1991, I went to Dubuque in USHL and had some business opportunities at that time. I was in my early 30s and at that point, I passed on those business opportunities and decided to make coaching my life. It hasn’t made me monetarily rich, but the people that I’ve met and the relationships and the experiences, you can’t put a monetary value on that.”
Through every decision Eades has made during his coaching journey, he always seems to make a call to Gino. But their relationship has gone deeper, and he calls his coach for advice on moments bigger than hockey.
Eades has three children. Alexandra, who played club hockey at UND, is working as a nurse in Fargo and recently celebrated her first wedding anniversary. Eddie, Eades’ only son, is playing hockey for Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Eades’ youngest, Erica, is in her sophomore season of cross-country and track and field at UND.
For 30 years, Eades has called the Red River Valley his home. He came to Fargo to coach the Force in 2015, to be in the center of it all. Finally, in his 30th-something year of coaching, Eades appears to be in the perfect place.
“Our ownership and front office are extremely supportive,” Eades said. “They allow me to do my business as a hockey coach and give me moral support and financial support to be competitive … Secondly, it’s this building. It’s a fantastic place to work every day and what’s equally important is, my family is from this area.”
When Eades took over as general manager and head coach of the Force, the team was going through a three-year postseason drought. It didn’t take long for Eades’ successful past to emerge in Fargo. The Force improved their record by eight points and just missed the playoffs in his first season.
Eades led the Force back into the playoffs last spring, ending the year with 77 points. He was rewarded for his efforts with a new contract extension, putting him under contract through the 2019-20 season.
So what is Eades’ secret to success?
“You have to have talent,” Eades said. “But what is talent? Talent can be hockey skill, but it can also be a work ethic, it can be selflessness. You have to have a lot of sacrifice in building a championship team. All those things are skills, and those are things that we try to embody in our players and empower them, and try to get them to play at their maximum peak level.”
Eades has also adapted his tenacious coaching style for the “Why Generation.” He explained how today, it’s more about the management of his players and explaining the process instead of barking orders.
“I think if you don’t change, you become a dinosaur, and you become extinct,” Eades said.
As much as Eades has evolved as a coach, he still ingrains the workman-like mentality to his players just as Gino taught him three decades ago in Grand Forks. It’s what being a UND hockey player is all about, he says.
“(Having) pride in the program and what you’re representing,” Eades continues, explaining what it means to play hockey for UND. “Gino has said it many times, the crest in the front of your jersey is much more important than the name on the back. Guys took that—the tremendous leaders that were there. John Marks as a player, on through Mark Taylor. You can go through the different, tremendous leaders and that baton has been passed, and you try to live up to those standards. There’s great camaraderie, great pride and it’s like a family.”
Although Eades wears a different crest during his day job, beneath it all is the same championship-winning UND hockey player from the 1980s. That passion for hockey combined with the mentorship of his father and Gino has created a coach that could be the one to bring the Force its first Clark Cup.
GAMES PLAYED: 144
TOTAL POINTS: 164
Co-captain in 1981-82 season
Two National Championships (’80 & ’82)
Three WCHA championships
1984-91 – Assistant Coach, UND
1991-93 – GM/Head Coach, Dubuque Fighting Saints
1993-2004 – Head Coach, Warroad
2004-12 – Assistant Coach, UND
2012-15 – GM/Head Coach, Sioux Fall Stampede
2015-Present – GM/Head Coach, Fargo Force