FARGO — It’s been a year of change for Fargo Force head coach Scott Langer.
A year ago, Langer was entering his fifth season at the helm of the Aberdeen Wings of the North American Hockey League and living in South Dakota with his wife, Tiffany. Now he’s a head coach in the United States Hockey League and lives in Fargo with his wife and their 7-month-old twins.
Langer was named the head coach of the Force in July, four months after the birth of his twins, Vivian and Kasen. He replaced Pierre-Paul Lamoureux, who stepped down earlier that month after two years at the helm.
“It was a big move, having to relocate the twins and Tiffany, who was pretty well-involved in the community in Aberdeen,” Langer said. “We kind of had to shift everything to Fargo, but it’s all been good.”
With new faces on the roster and coaching staff, the Force are off to a 2-0-1 start to the year. There are just four returners from last year’s team, which reached the Clark Cup Finals, but Langer sees it as an advantage.
“Coming into this, I thought that worked out for the best, because they didn’t have any preconceived notions of how the game should be played,” Langer said. “Our guys are buying into what we’re preaching and what we’re teaching, and I think that’s why we’re having some success.”
The Force opened the 2021-22 season with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Steel (5-0-1), the team that defeated them in the Clark Cup Finals last year. They picked up an overtime win in the second game of the season against Team USA, and held off a Sioux City comeback in last week’s home opener.
Amid all the change in recent months, Langer has kept one thing the same — his coaching style. After all, he’s the winningest coach in NAHL history with a career record of 637-244-82. Langer won a Robertson Cup with Aberdeen in 2019, which is awarded to the league champion, and brought the same high expectations to Fargo.
“That’s one reason I took the job, is because it’s a winning culture,” Langer said. “It’s a winning tradition. There've been a lot of good coaches with Cary Eades, John Marks, Pierre Lamoureux — guys that have done a great job here.
“So the bar is high, and I think we need to be working every day towards not just making the playoffs, but making a run in the playoffs and trying to bring another championship here to Fargo.”
The Force were the winningest team in the USHL's Western Conference in the two seasons under Lamoureux, a Grand Forks native. Lamoureux was named associate head coach of the Force in July 2017. The organization won its first Clark Cup the following season.
Langer is the seventh head coach in franchise history. Before Fargo, he spent 17 years coaching in the NAHL, split between Aberdeen, Topeka, Kan., and Santa Fe, N.M.
Langer is happy with how his team is playing and how they responded to different situations early this season, as the first few games included a shootout, overtime and last-minute win. The Force return to Scheels Arena this weekend for a two-game series against the Lincoln Stars (3-1-1).
“Right from training camp, we discussed what we wanted to see our identity as and I think our guys have been doing a great job,” Langer said. “We want to outwork our opponents, and I know a lot of teams say that, but we honestly want to be the hardest-working team in this conference.”
“I would like the fans to see a team that every night just puts in the work, and if we aren’t successful that night, I still want to have outworked our competition,” he added.
Langer has his hands full with his head coaching gig and the twins, but wouldn’t have it any other way. He tries to get home from the arena at a decent time so he can take over for Tiffany, who currently serves on Aberdeen’s City Council. Langer and his wife take turns watching the kids, who have been an "absolute blessing," he said.
Tiffany’s pregnancy with their first child, Kellan, resulted in a stillbirth. The Langers lost their son in July 2019 when Tiffany was 36 weeks pregnant, but Kellan is still very much a part of their lives. They started the Kellan Kares Foundation to raise awareness about infant and pregnancy loss.
“To give us two at the same time, we just feel so blessed to have Vivian and Kasen,” he said. “Every day I go home from work and they’re there, that just makes it so special.”