FARGO — If Scott Langer was going to leave the Aberdeen (S.D.) Wings, he always knew Fargo was where he wanted it to be.
When the Fargo Force job opened up after former coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux stepped down this July, Langer didn’t hesitate to throw his name in the running. And just four days after officially opening their search and receiving more than 50 applications, the Force announced Langer as the seventh head coach in franchise history.
“I’ve been super loyal where I’ve been,” Langer said. “One place that my wife, Tiffany, and I have talked about for quite some time, if it ever became available that we were going to make an attempt to be the next coach, was Fargo. It’s been a prestige program, it’s one that we know we’ll be really happy.”
Langer spent the past 17 years coaching in the North American Hockey League, split between Aberdeen, Topeka, Kan., and Santa Fe, N.M. He is the winningest coach in NAHL history with a career record of 637-244-82 and led the Wings to the 2018-19 Robertson Cup, awarded to the NAHL champion. He was named the NAHL coach of the year and general manager of the year last season. Langer has won the coach of the year award three times and the general manager award twice. He expects his experience to translate to the higher level of play in the USHL.
“The game of hockey doesn’t change,” Langer said. “Obviously the talent of the players does and the stage does, but the game of hockey is you need to outwork your opponent, you need to be physical, you need to be fast. Most of these guys are mostly going to college hockey before the pros, they have to learn to play the game fast and in the right way. I think our style of play is going to suit the Fargo Force in a big way.”
The Force didn’t waste any time deciding that Langer was their man and Langer didn’t waste any time accepting. He and his wife knew right away that it was a move they wanted to make.
“It was quick,” Langer said. “We went from national championship right into tryout camps to getting our main camp ready and then next thing you know, Mr. Eades reached out to me to see what kind of interest I would have in the program. And then my wife and I knew that we wanted to be involved in the program. We want to win championships together. My time talking with Cary in those days made it an easy decision.”
Langer had been on Eades’ radar for years. The GM said Langer was one of three or four coaches he reached out to immediately when the position opened up. Eades said he was impressed with the way Langer and assistant coach Michael Hill, who will be joining Langer in Fargo, responded to a major influx of talent across the NAHL last season.
With many college hockey teams and two USHL teams not playing due to COVID, many high-level players either stayed an extra season in juniors or left their college teams for a year to return to the level. That resulted in both the USHL and NAHL having deep collections of talent.
"I remember thinking to myself, 'OK, let’s see how Langer does this year when all the other teams are loaded, as well,'" Eades said. "And what did he and assistant coach Michael Hill do this year? They set the all-time record with 51 wins, 4 losses and one tie in 56 games. These guys can flat-out coach."
The opportunity to work with Eades was a major draw for Langer.
“Cary and I have crossed paths quite a bit, but we’ve never really sat down and hashed out hockey until recently,” Langer said. “Everybody in the hockey world has so much respect for Cary Eades and the job he does and the way he manages people. Obviously he’s proven he can bring high-quality players into Fargo. He had a lot to do with me coming here, there’s no question.”
The Force were the winningest team in the USHL's Western Conference the past two seasons under Lamoureux, a Grand Forks native. They reached the Clark Cup Finals this past season in Lamoureux's only season with a playoffs after his first was cut short due to COVID.