by Arch Ecker
In a level of hockey that is by design considered “developmental”, for one man to pilot a franchise for seven straight seasons is not common. The Topeka RoadRunners Head Coach / GM Scott Langer has been at the helm since the franchise set up shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico in September 2004. He has navigated through four ownership changes and two franchise relocations and along the way built a Tier II Junior A powerhouse program. He closed out the month of October with a career mark of 252-118-35, a winning percentage of .665 and averaging an amazing 37 plus wins per year. He has also helped over 60 of his former players advance their careers at the college level.
During the month of October, Langer won his 250th game when the RoadRunners defeated the Wichita Falls Wildcats 5-1 on Saturday, Oct. 9 in North Texas. Team majority owner Don Stone was quick to add his praise. “Scott is an outstanding coach and to hit this mark so quickly is a testament to his abilities. The Stone family and the RoadRunners are very proud to call Scott one of our own.” Harry Mahood, owner of the Phoenix Polar Bears and assistant coach with the RoadRunners said, "Two hundred fifty wins is an amazing milestone for such a young coach. Many people underestimate the value of coaching leadership in team success." He went to say, "Teams can only be successful with a leader who is focused on building relationships and encouraging players to make positive choices that support both the team and player's goals."
Staying true to his passion of developing as a coach, he pursued the highest level of coaching certification available with USA Hockey, that being a Level 5. He was required to attend and participate in a symposium over the summer and submit a thesis for review. He recently received confirmation of his Level 5 status.
A native of East Islip, NY on Long Island, Langer himself played junior hockey as a defenseman for the Bismarck Bullets and Bismarck Express of the old AFHL (later renamed AWHL). He was named to the AFHL All-Star Team in the 1994-95 season. After his junior playing career ended, he stayed in Bismarck coaching at the Bantam AA level before being hired as an assistant coach for the AWHL / NAHL Bismarck Bobcats from 1997-2002. He spent one season as an assistant coach for the USHL Chicago Steel before accepting an assistant coach position with the expansion Lone Star Cavalry in 2003-04. After one season in Texas, the franchise was purchased and moved to Santa Fe, NM and the RoadRunners were born. Coach Langer assumed the Head Coach position after the relocation and has held the position ever since.
In the 2009-10 season, Langer’s work was recognized by the NAHL as they awarded him “GM of the Year” honors. “Smack” (nicknamed for his dugout chatter by softball teammates in North Dakota) is quick to brag about his players successes, but reticent to discuss his own. Harry Mahood, who in his own right holds a lot of respect in the hockey world, is effusive in his praise of Langer. "Scott is a very humble person who cares more about the kids and little about personal milestones. However, as a coaching peer of Scott's, I just want to let everyone know that Scott Langer is one of the best people and brightest minds working in the game today. His success and future success is of little surprise to me because he has a special gift for coaching and determined passion to succeed. He will go down as one of the top 3 or 4 coaches to have ever coached in the North American Hockey League."