The Aberdeen Wings skated to their sixteenth victory of the 2020-21 hockey season and head coach Scott Langer nabbed a milestone win Friday night at the Odde Ice Arena.
With a 4-1 win over the Bismarck Bobcats, Langer won his 602nd game in his 17-year history with the North American Hockey League (NAHL). His next win will surpass the current record held by Tony Curtale. Langer boasts a record of 602-241-81, coaching a total of 923 games.
The milestone win started with a goal from Kyle Gaffney nearly halfway through the first period, with the assist going to newcomer Will Arquiett. After the period’s sole goal, the teams headed into the locker room with the Wings leading 1-0.
Bismarck tied the game at the 8:27 mark in the second period with a power play-goal from Braden Costello, but the Wings responded with the goal from Natan Vertes with just over a minute left to play. Thomas Manty and Clayton Cosentino picked up the assist on the game-winning goal and the teams headed into the final break with the Wings again leading by one.
Aberdeen continued to take shots against the Bobcats in the third period, with Spencer Schneider finding the back of the net on the power-play at the 9:02 mark. He was assisted by Cosentino, who picked up his 22nd assist of the season, and Trevor Russell, who picked up his 13th assist. Payton Matsui scored the game’s final goal at the 14:37 mark, assisted by Schneider and Liam Fraser.
The big win came off the team’s first loss of the season, followed by the holiday break. But Langer appreciates how the team is feeling just over a quarter of the way through the season.
“The group responded after a loss that we didn’t have our best performance in,” he said after the win. “I think that’s the best thing to take out of tonight.”
Bismarck outshot Aberdeen 18-12 in the first period, but the Wings handled most of the scoring in the second and third, outshooting the Bobcats 26-20 overall. Wings goalie Jacob Sibell stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced, while Bismarck goalie Cameron Korpi knocked away 34 of 38.
“This team plays with a lot of confidence,” Langer said after the win. “They take one game at a time and I think that’s the best way to approach it.”
With a chance to claim the overall wins record, Langer appreciates where he’s been, but is focused on providing for his current roster of junior hockey players.
“I have so many good memories and a lot of fantastic people surrounding me,” he said. “It’s been a personal goal since I coached my first game. I am really just focused on winning one game at a time and for this team to have immense success.”
The Wings will host the Bobcats again Saturday night at the Odde. Tickets can be purchased ahead of the game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com. As part of the New Year, New You weekend, fans can show their YMCA membership at the door for $2 off their general admission ticket.