Two months after hiring Rico Blasi to lead their Division I men’s hockey program, the University of St. Thomas made an equally big splash on the women’s side on Monday, when they announced University of Minnesota assistant coach and interim USA women’s national team coach Joel Johnson as the first head coach in the school’s D-1 history.
Johnson has spent 16 seasons as an assistant coach with the University of Minnesota women’s program, winning six national titles and making 11 trips to the Frozen Four. Johnson worked with the defense at Minnesota, as well as handling much of the recruiting responsibilities for Minnesota, helping land some impressive recruiting classes.
In addition to his collegiate experience, Johnson has also spent a considerable amount of time working with USA Hockey, helping lead the U18s to multiple IIHF gold medals, and most recently moving to the senior national team as an assistant coach, before being given the head coaching job on an interim basis this summer after the sudden resignation of head coach Bob Corkum.
While there are never any guarantees, this seems like as big of a home run hire as St. Thomas could possibly get. The combination of an excellent, well-connected recruiter at a school with strong academics, in the middle of the largest concentration of female hockey talent in the world in the Twin Cities metro area certainly seems like it could be a recipe for St. Thomas to be a major player in D-I sooner rather than later.