The Fargo Force, member of the United States Hockey League (USHL), announced today that Steve Johnson has been named the club's head coach and general manager.
Johnson is no stranger to the USHL and the Fargo area. He was the coach of the Fargo-Moorhead Bears during the 1995-96 season leading the team to a 27-18-1 record and earned recognition as USHL Coach of the Year. The following year, the native of Grand Forks, North Dakota became the head coach of the Lincoln Stars during their inaugural season leading them to an impressive 40-13-1 record and a Clark Cup title. That season began a stretch of 11 seasons for Johnson behind the bench in Lincoln. He guided the Stars to two Clark Cup championships (2002-03, 1996-97) and three Anderson Cup titles (2002-03, 2000-01, 1999-00). Johnson's Lincoln clubs won 30-or-more games in nine seasons and reached 40 wins on four occasions.
"I am honored and excited to be the head coach and general manager of the Fargo Force," stated Steve Johnson. "I enjoyed my first twelve years in the league, beginning here in Fargo-Moorhead, but after two years out of coaching I am eager and ready dive back in. I am looking forward to the challenge of building on the foundation that Dean Blais laid here in the Fargo area. This is a great opportunity and I cannot wait to get started and begin the pursuit of bringing a Clark Cup Championship to the Fargo-Moorhead area."
Johnson was also named USHL Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons in Lincoln (1999-00 and 2000-01), becoming only the second coach in league history to capture the award in consecutive seasons. In 12 years coaching USHL clubs, he has compiled a 433-206-48 record and ranks fourth all-time in career wins.
"I would like to congratulate Steve and the Fargo Force which appears to be a perfect match for both parties, what a great selection as the next head coach and general manager of the Fargo Force" said Skip Prince, USHL Commissioner. "Steve brings a ton of talent to the bench in addition to what resides on the ice, definitely placing the Force in a position to pick up where they left off after the extremely successful inaugural season."
As a player, Johnson enjoyed a stellar collegiate career at the University of North Dakota. He recorded 191 points (70g, 121a) over 153 games during his four seasons and was a part of the team that won the 1997 NCAA Championship under then head coach Gino Gasparini. Johnson was a Hobey Baker Finalist in his senior season (1987-88) after scoring 85 points (34g, 51a) in 42 games.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)