Growing up in Nanaimo, British Columbia, just a ferry ride away from Vancouver, Minnesota Wild prospect Chase Lang
loathed the Canucks.
His allegiance lay with the Calgary Flames because of one player: Jarome Iginla. An Iginla sweater and poster graced his bedroom walls and when he imagined himself as a pro out on the ice, it was always Iggy.
“When I was growing up, ever since their long playoff run against Tampa Bay — they lost in Game
7 — I’ve always looked up to him and try to play like him,” Lang said. “He’s a leader on his team and he can score, he can fight, he can do everything — so I really looked up to him as a player.”
When he was about 11 or 12 years old, the forward finally got to see his idol play in per- son — taking in a Flames-Canucks game in Vancouver. Of course, as fate would have it, Vancouver won in overtime.
Only a few years after taking in that game, Lang took his development to the next level. At 15, he started playing in the Western Hockey League in the very city of his favorite team, joining the Calgary Hitmen.
Moving away from home was actually easy for the youngster. He had family in Calgary and they have served as his billet family for the past three seasons. Knowing people in town made his transition both on and off the ice more comfortable.
“I thought it was the best opportunity for me to pursue my hockey career,” Lang said. “I wasn’t that into schooling; I’d rather just play hockey all the time and try to focus on that.
“It’s obviously tough moving away from home — I had to do it my second year in Bantam — it was kind of easy coming here, too. I was with people that I knew and my parents knew. So it was really easy to come here and get settled.”
In his first two seasons in Calgary, the center played a more defensive role for the Hitmen. As a result, he didn’t make a huge impact on the offense. In the 2012-13 season, his first, he picked up four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 44 games. The following season he experienced an uptick in production, netting 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points through 68 games.
Following that effort, Lang was rewarded with a nice surprise in the offseason — the Wild selected the 6-foot-1, 176-pound forward in the sixth round of the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
“It was definitely a huge boost of confidence for me,” Lang said. “Last year I didn’t really expect much going into the draft; I didn’t really talk to any teams. That definitely gave me a lot of motivation to start training harder over the summer. I just really wanted to make sure I impressed the Wild.”
In July, just weeks after he was selected, Lang got that chance at Wild Development Camp. The 18-year-old noted that at his first one, he learned a lot and was shown what it is to be a pro.
His time at Camp only continued to motivate him. After his first two years in Calgary combined with
his experience in Minnesota, Lang knew he wanted to return to the Hitmen this season and have a bigger impact.
Through 38 games played (of a possible 43), Lang is third on the team in points with 40 (18-22=40) and his 18 goals also ranks third. He has also netted five power play goals, a shorthanded goal and owns a plus-10 rating.
“This is a huge development year for me,” Lang said. “The last two years I’ve been in more of a defensive role and I really wanted to come into this year to show that I was an offensive player, because I feel like I’ve always been one. Coming into this year, I really wanted to run with the amount of ice the coaches gave me and show them that I could produce.”
In Calgary, where Iginla made a name as a notorious Wild killer, Lang is hoping to hone his skills to one day become a noted producer for Minnesota.