Following up their Robertson Cup Championship in 2019, the Aberdeen Wings again set themselves up for success in 2019-20. And, while it is not easy to defend a title, the Wings were able to pick up right where they left off from the year prior. Led by head coach Scott Langer, who is currently the NAHL active wins leader with close to 600 regular season wins to his credit, the Wings were again atop the Central Division during the regular season, posting 34 wins and 74 points when the season was interrupted.
“Last season ended so quick. I wasn’t able to talk to our guys who were moving onto the NCAA. I wasn’t able to talk with other players about returning to Aberdeen. There was a lack of finalization, which obviously was totally different than a year ago when we all experienced the ultimate high of winning a Championship,” said Langer. “I think that was the toughest part. You work all season for that final result and closure, and we didn’t experience any of that and felt we had another group that could contend for another title.”
The Wings success in 2019-20 mirrored that of the year before when they won the cup, which was an affective combination of offense and defense. The Wings were a Top 5 team in the league in both scoring and goals against per game, scoring 3.67 goals per contest, while allowing just 2.39 goals per game. It is something that has become a winning formula for success for Scott Langer-coached teams, who regularly carry responsibility and production at both ends of the ice.
Success on the ice and in the NCAA commitment department once again went hand-in-hand for the Wings, who boasted 15 NCAA Division 1 commitments in 2020, which was among the league leaders.
“It is very satisfying to see the number of commitments and the type of programs our players are going to. There is no better feeling as a coach. Putting players into the NCAA and doing it by the dozens is what it is all about, and I know that’s a philosophy that is shared by our ownership on down. We all want to win, but it is extremely satisfying to see players commit who have gone through the entire process of being recruited, to building character, to developing, to having success in our league, to earning an NCAA commitment. It says a lot about the process we have in place, our staff, and our players,” said Langer.
With the Robertson Cup title in 2019 and 30 NCAA commitments the past two seasons, the Wings enter the 2020-21 campaign with some gaps to fill. With the extended break from March until October, and the inclusion of a Dispersal Draft in addition to the regular Entry Draft, Langer said that the 2020 off-season was more important than any he can remember in recent memory.
“I think we lost some really good players, so we had to have a very good recruiting year. I think our biggest need was on defense, so that was something we tried to address in the drafts and we tried to compliment that by tendering some really good forwards. We want depth. We want four lines that can skate and compete with anybody. We have leadership in all those areas as well, so we have some guys who understand our culture and can pass that along to those who are new to the program,” said Langer.
2020 has been a year like none other and Langer believes that there will be challenges this season on and off the ice. “I think the biggest challenge and unknown we are facing today is navigating through a 60-game season and stay healthy while doing it in the current environment. We owe it to one another in the NAHL to be good partners and be very responsible this season that is going to include adhering to some new guidelines and policies that have been designed to keep us all safe and keep us playing hockey.”
While there won’t be many returning players for the Wings, one who will be looked upon to build off an impressive rookie campaign is forward and Air Force commit Clayton Cosentino. The Colorado Springs, Colorado native had 31 points in 51 games played last season
“Clayton is going to set the tone for our team’s work ethic. He is consistently working on becoming a better player and always wanting to learn more. He is the guy you want on your hockey team for others to follow, and definitely a player the coaching staff is going to lean on for leadership in the locker room,” said Langer.