Take a look back at the Gopher women's hockey team's 2016-17 campaign
Five Gophers are set to compete in the Nations Cup this week while future Gophers head to the U-18 world championship
Current, future, and past Gophers are set to compete at upcoming USA, Canada, and Finland events
Eight Gophers represented their countries as the U.S. and Canada faced off in a three-game series
The U.S. Women's Under-22 Select Team recorded a 3-2 win over Canada's National Women's Development Team Saturday
Minnesota capped a perfect season with its second-straight NCAA title.
The 2016-17 season marked associate head coach Joel Johnson's 12th season on the Golden Gopher women's hockey coaching staff.
Johnson has helped lead Minnesota to six national titles in his tenure with the Gophers after coaching the Minnesota program during the 2000, 2004, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016 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.
In addition to his duties with the Gophers, Johnson served as head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team for the 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 seasons. Johnson led the U.S. to back-to-back-to-back gold medals at the 2015, 2016, and 2017 IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championships. He also led the club at three Under-18 Series vs. Canada in Kamloops, B.C., in August 2014 (1-2), in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August 2015 (1-2), and in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August 2016 (2-1). Johnson's USA Hockey experience also includes serving as a member of the coaching staff for the 2012 IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship and the 2013 Women's Under-18 Series. He has coached at various U.S. Women's Select Festivals as well.
Over the last seven seasons since Johnson returned to the Gophers' bench, Minnesota made five-straight NCAA national championship game appearances from 2012 to 2016, winning four of the last six national crowns including back-to-back national titles in 2012 and 2013 and again in 2015 and 2016, along with recording a perfect 41-0-0 season in 2012-13. The Gophers' defensive corp has ranked first or second in the nation for scoring defense in four of the last six seasons, including allowing an average of just 0.88 goals per game to lead the nation 2012-13. Four Gopher defensemen have combined for eight All-American awards since 2010-11 and nine different defensemen have combined for 20 All-WCHA honors over the past seven seasons as well.
The 2010-11 season saw Johnson return 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
- B.A. Physical & Health Education, Bethel, 1996
- M.A. Organizational Leadership, Bethel, 2007
- Named head coach of U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team for the 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 seasons
- Received 2017 AHCA Women's Hockey Assistant Coach Award
- Returned for his second stint as a Minnesota assistant for the 2010-11 season
- Spent six years with the Bethel men's hockey team, including three seasons as the head coach
- Helped the Royals to their first-ever MIAC regular season championship
- Coached Patty Kazmaier finalists Courtney Kennedy (2000-01), Ronda Curtin (2001-02) and Megan Bozek (2012-13), the only defensemen in the top three for that award
- Minnesota defense led the WCHA in defense scoring with 34 goals in 2001-02
- Coached three consecutive WCHA Defensive Players of the Year, Winny Brodt (1999-00), Courtney Kennedy (2000-01) and Ronda Curtin (2001-02), along with two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Rachel Ramsey (2013-14 and 2014-15)
- Gopher defense allowed the fewest goals in the nation in 2011-12 (1.32 goals per game) and 2012-13 (0.88 goals per game)
- Finished baseball career at Bethel among top 10 in hits, runs and RBIs
- Finished four-year soccer career second in career assists and fifth in points at Bethel
- Bethel team captain in soccer, hockey and baseball
Honors and Awards
- Baseball team MVP and most inspirational, 1996
- Soccer, All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Confernce, 1994 and 1995
- Soccer, Preseason All-American, 1996
Future Gophers Earn Multiple Accolades
The six incoming freshmen for the 2017-18 season had a successful year before coming to the University of Minnesota, winning a variety of individual and team awards.
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IIHF Women's Worlds Recap with Stecklein
Senior Lee Stecklein reflects on her experience winning gold with the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship.