Joel Johnson, who has served as associate head coach of the Gophers women's hockey team for the past 11 years and is the interim head coach of the U.S. Women's National Team, on Monday received a new title: head coach of the University of St. Thomas women's hockey team.
St. Thomas announced that Johnson will lead the Tommies as they begin play as an NCAA Division I program, moving up from Division III, this fall in the WCHA women's league. He will be formally introduced as Tommies coach during a Thursday afternoon news conference.
"I am delighted to welcome Joel Johnson and his family to the University of St. Thomas,'' Phil Esten, St. Thomas athletic director, said in a statement. "Through our national search that spanned an impressive pool of candidates, it became clear that Joel is the right individual to lead our women's hockey program, now and into the future. He epitomizes what it means to be a Tommie as a relationship-focused servant leader that develops his student-athletes both on and off the ice.''
Johnson replaces Tom Palkowski, who guided St. Thomas to a 220-90-40 record, four MIAC regular-season titles and five conference playoff championships, and two NCAA Division III Frozen Four appearances in 14 seasons.
"The women's hockey program has a great foundation of success, and I look forward to continue building upon that,'' Johnson said in a statement. "I believe St. Thomas is uniquely positioned to attract and develop the very best student-athletes not only from the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, but from across North America.''
In two stints with the Gophers (1999-2004, 2011-21), Johnson helped guide Minnesota to six NCAA championships and 11 Frozen Four appearances. He also has deep roots in USA Hockey, serving as an assistant for the U.S. Women's National Team from 2018 to 2020 and helping the squad win gold medals in the 2018 Four Nations Cup and the 2019 IIHF World Championships. He also served as coach of various under-22 and under-18 U.S. teams from 2014 to 2018.