Members of the team share what they're thankful for this year
Minnesota capped a perfect season with its second-straight NCAA title.
Assistant coach Joel Johnson completed his ninth season as an assistant coach for the Golden Gopher women's hockey team in 2013-14, helping lead the team to its third-straight national championship appearance.
Johnson has helped lead Minnesota to four national titles in his tenure with the Gophers after coaching the Minnesota program during the 2000, 2004, 2012 and 2013 championship seasons. Johnson returned to the Gophers' bench for the 2010-11 season after previously serving as an assistant coach from 1999-00 to 2003-04. Johnson primarily coaches the Gopher defensemen; he also assists with special teams, game analysis and recruiting.
The 2012-13 season saw the Gophers make history with a perfect 41-0-0 season en route to securing their second-straight national championship, the program's fifth overall. Minnesota's defensive corps allowed an average of 0.88 goals per game to lead the nation. The Gophers posted 19 shutouts, and goaltender Noora Räty and blue liner Megan Bozek joined forward Amanda Kessel in being named first-team All-Americans.
In 2011-12, the awards and accolades for the Minnesota blue line piled up. Johnson coached the Gopher defense that led the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 1.32 goals per game. Johnson led the defensive corps that gave up just five goals in seven postseason games. Three Gopher defensemen ranked among the top 25 nationally in scoring by defensemen in Bozek, Anne Schleper and Rachel Ramsey. Bozek and Schleper each earned first-team All-WCHA accolades in 2012, while Ramsey was named to the WCHA All-Rookie team. Bozek earned first-team All-America acclaim under Johnson's leadership.
In 2010-11, Johnson returned to the University of Minnesota women's hockey staff after a six-year hiatus. Johnson spent six seasons coaching at Bethel University from 2004-10, including three years as the men's hockey head coach. Along with his men's hockey responsibilities, he was also the men's and women's golf coach and prior to that, was the soccer coach where he earned MIAC Coach of the Year honors.
In his first year as the men's hockey head coach, Johnson guided the Royals to a 16-7-2 overall record and an 11-4-1 mark in the MIAC. At the helm of Royal hockey, he posted a career record of 37-35-3 and 26-21-1 within conference play. As an assistant coach, Johnson helped the team to its first-ever MIAC regular season championship in 2006-07. The Royals followed with their first-ever playoff title and advanced to the NCAA national tournament in 2007. While Johnson was associated with Bethel, the team was a playoff contender each year.
Johnson was an assistant women's coach at Minnesota for five years as he aided the Gophers to two national championships in 2000 and 2004. Like his current role, Johnson primarily worked with the Gopher defensemen. He coached some of the nation's best blue liners as Courtney Kennedy and Ronda Curtin were top-three Patty Kazmaier finalists and first-team All-Americans. Kennedy, Curtin and Winny Brodt were all named the WCHA Defensive Players of the Year during his tenure. Also in Johnson's span with the Gophers, Minnesota made three trips to the NCAA Frozen Four (2002, 2003 and 2004) and won WCHA titles in 2002 and 2004.
A 1996 graduate of Bethel with a degree in physical education and minors in health education and coaching, Johnson was a three-sport athlete for the Royals and earned four letters in soccer, hockey and baseball. Johnson served as a captain for all three teams and won all-conference and all-region awards during his career along with team most valuable and most inspirational players awards. As a soccer player, he finished his career ranked second in assists (21) and fifth in points (43). He also ranked among the school's top 10 in career hits, runs and RBIs in baseball, batting .350 for his career. Johnson scored 40 points from the blueline during his first two years of hockey before a back injury curtailed his career. Following his playing days for the Royals, Johnson started his coaching career and coached soccer and hockey at his alma mater. He also was an assistant coach for Park/Woodbury High School during the 1996-97 season and coached both soccer and baseball at New Life Academy for two years. Johnson, his wife Shannon, daughter Megan, and son Jacob reside in White Bear Lake, Minn.
Johnson At A Glance
Honors and Awards