The Aberdeen Wings, proud members of the North American Hockey League, are pleased to announce the promotion of Francis Anzalone to the position of Head Coach/Director of Hockey Operations. The 26-year-old has agreed to a multi-year deal after spending the 2013-2014 season as the Associate Head Coach/Director of Player Personnel for the Wings. He takes the reins from former Head Coach Travis Winter, who will return to his alma mater, Bemidji State University, to serve as an Assistant Coach.
“This is an exciting day not just for the Aberdeen Wings but also for these two fine individuals,” Owner Greg Odde said. “Travis has done a lot for our organization, our players and the Aberdeen community. We wish him and his family nothing but the best as they return to Bemidji to embark on the next phase of their lives.”
In just 16 months guiding the Wings, Winter compiled a record of 53-24-7. The St. Cloud, MN native piloted the Wings to their second NAHL playoff appearance in 2013-2014, a season that saw the team set numerous franchise records.
“I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Odde, the Wings organization and the entire Aberdeen community for all the support they have given me and my family,” Winter said. “I also want to acknowledge the wonderful group of players and staff I worked with. Their dedication has helped put a solid foundation in place. The Aberdeen Wings are a first class organization and have truly helped me in my coaching career. I look forward to watching the continued growth of the Wings under Coach Anzalone’s guidance.”
The 2013-2014 campaign was Anzalone and Winter’s fifth together. The tandem worked side-by-side for four seasons with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, where Anzalone served on both the coaching and scouting staffs of the USHL club.
“Francis has been instrumental in building the hockey culture in Aberdeen,” Winter commented. “He has been involved in every major aspect of the hockey operation and the decisions that are made on a daily basis. He is an incredibly passionate, detailed, hands-on teacher who is well-respected by the players. He relates well to today’s athlete and has a knack for pushing and getting the most out of players and teams. The program is in great hands.”
Anzalone has been coaching at the competitive youth and junior levels since he was 18. His experience extends beyond his resume, having grown up around the game through his father Frank, who has coached at the junior, collegiate and professional levels for over 30 years. The Sault Ste. Marie, MI native is excited to take the next step in his own career while continuing the work he and Winter have started.
“I feel extremely fortunate to be the Head Coach of the Aberdeen Wings, particularly because Travis is advancing in his career,” Anzalone said. “The fan support and commitment from ownership in Aberdeen are both top notch. Most importantly, we have a great environment for players to develop in, not just as athletes but also as people. I will do all I can to grow our program and assist our players in reaching their goals.”
Ultimately, Odde believes that the departure of Winter and the promotion of Anzalone provide a win-win for the Wings, their players and the program’s reputation.
“Seeing these two young coaches move up embodies the culture of development and opportunity that we are committed to continuing in Aberdeen,” Odde added. “Helping people reach their goals is what junior hockey is all about.”