Fargo Force hire Nick Oliver as new head coach
Oliver, who played for Fargo from 2009-11 and most recently served as an assistant coach at St. Cloud State, was formally introduced as the team's new bench boss at Scheels Arena Monday afternoon
FARGO — The Fargo Force have hired Nick Oliver to be its head coach, the team announced Monday morning.
Oliver, who played for Fargo from 2009-11 and most recently served as an assistant coach at St. Cloud State, was formally introduced as the team's new bench boss at Scheels Arena Monday afternoon.
"Obviously I'm extremely excited and extremely grateful for the opportunity to be the next head coach of the Fargo Force," Oliver said. "It's a tremendous ownership group, a tremendous organization, and I feel extremely blessed — myself and my family — that this is going to be the next chapter of our lives in the Fargo-Moorhead area and we're excited to get started."
Oliver is the first player in team history to return to the organization as its head coach.
"Nick spent a couple of years playing for us right when the organization started," said team president Jon Kram. "He's played here as a college athlete and he's also coached here as a college coach, so we're really excited to start seeing the full development of players in our league now come back as head coaches."
It's the first head coaching gig for Oliver in his career.
Before landing his assistant role at SCSU where he spent the past four seasons, Oliver gained experience coaching in the United States Hockey League by serving as the assistant coach and director of scouting for the Sioux Falls Stampede from 2015-18.
In his time playing for the Force, Oliver served as an alternate captain during his final season in 2010-11 and helped lead the team to its first ever Western Conference championship and Clark Cup finals appearance.
The 30-year-old Roseau, Minnesota native went on to play four seasons at SCSU from 2011-15, helping lead the Huskies to a first-place finish in the WCHA regular season in 2012-13 along with earning a berth in the Frozen Four. During his junior year, Oliver helped the Huskies clinch the NCHC regular season crown in 2013-14 and he was the recipient of the league's Sportsmanship Award in 2015.
Oliver succeeds former head coach Scott Langer, who the team announced last week would not be returning for a second season. Langer guided the Force to a regular season record of 28-28-4-2 in 2021-22 before falling to Omaha in the first round of the USHL playoffs.
The team seemed to have its eyes on Oliver for some time, announcing the hiring just four days after the announcement of Langer's departure.
Oliver said his relationship with the team over the years helped in the swift hiring process.
"I think it helped a lot," he said. "Obviously, for me, playing at St. Cloud State and coaching at St. Cloud State, it's a very special place for me. But I knew that this was an opportunity that I didn't want to pass up on. I'm very grateful that the ownership group and the organization has entrusted me with this responsibility and with this opportunity.
"It was a quick process and kind of a crazy process, but fun to go through. I think change is always fun and it can be difficult in some ways, but obviously I'm really excited and grateful to be here and to get going."
Kram said his relationship with the organization and previous success at the junior and collegiate levels drew the team to Oliver.
"When you look at someone like Nick, a player that's played here and the success he had at St. Cloud State, I think it's a natural transition now that you start identifying assistant coaches at the college ranks that can relate to the players and that have seen success," he said. "We're really excited to give him that opportunity and he was just a natural fit. I think it's an example of development all around from a player to a coach and having a player come back and coach for us I think is a really unique situation and it fit well and felt well."
Oliver said one of his goals right out of the gate will be to instill the culture and style of play he hopes to bring to the locker room.
"I think for us and our staff, when our players do report, I just think really instilling our culture and our style of play that we want to bring," he said. "Getting to that early and to that often. I can't tell you what that's going to look like, but the best part about this organization is that there are high expectations and it's an organization that year-to-year always tries to have success, and that's our goal. To come in with the right mix of guys and hit the ground running and teach them the right way. The expectations are high and we're excited about that."