Adam Johnson of Hibbing, right, had a goal and two assists in Team North's 8-3 victory over Manitoba. Photo by Helen Nelson
Two years ago, Adam Johnson came out of nowhere to score 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) as a ninth grade defenseman.
What was next for the Hibbing/Chisholm standout during the 2010-2011 season?
An 85-point season (42 goals, 43 assists) after moving to forward including a Section 7A championship, a state tournament appearance that still has people talking and a verbal commitment to play for the current NCAA-DI champions -- the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Johnson now finds himself in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League playing for Team North and making an immediate impact.
Team North's Adam Johnson of Hibbing is coming off an 85-point high school season as a sophomore. Photo by Helen Nelson
Most recently, Johnson tallied three points (one goal, two assists) in Team North’s 8-3 victory over Manitoba.
The solid offensive performance being an all too familiar scene, the now-junior admitted that it’s been a welcomed return to hockey.
“I missed it (hockey) -- I didn't play all summer so it's really good to be back,” Johnson said. “The guys are a lot of fun and it's been fun to come down every weekend to play.”
Johnson’s teammates are also enjoying themselves -- especially when they’re on the same line.
“It's a honor to play with him,” Team North senior forward Jordan Heller said. “He's a good player. I've never really played with the kid -- today was my first day (on Johnson's line).
“He just knows where I am out there.”
Heller, who plays during the varsity season with Bemidji, ended the game with two assists.
After six games, Johnson now has five points (two goals, three assists) and is reveling in the Elite League experience.
“This will get me ready for the season,” Johnson said. “It will get me in shape and I'm playing a lot of good hockey so it will be great for me.”
-- Michael Murakami, MN Hockey Hub staff
Jake Jackson of Tartan scored a goal and added two assists for Manitoba in its 8-3 loss to Team North. Photo by Helen Nelson
Manitoba’s introduction to the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League could hardly be considered welcoming.
The team of high school players from Winnipeg was outscored 39-3 in their first three games on Sept. 10-11.
Short of players and facing a similar outcome in its second and final weekend of Elite League play, there was discussion about Manitoba skipping its second trip south.
Averting what mostly likely would have been three forfeited games, a solution was found in the form of call-up players from the Minnesota Elite Prep Development League. Defensemen Teemu Kivihalme of Burnsville and Johnny Austin of Blake were joined by the forward line of Jake Jackson of Tartan, Mason Bergh of Eden Prairie and Ryan Tapani of Providence Academy as Manitoba reinforcements.
“When our (Elite Development League) coach told us we were playing for Manitoba, I was really excited,” said Jackson, who had a goal and two assists on Sunday, Sept. 18, in Manitoba’s 8-3 loss to Team North. “Even though it is not a main Minnesota Elite League team, we got to play against those teams. (Sunday) I felt like a played a lot better, so hopefully I get moved up.”
Starting last season, the Elite Development League served as the official feeder league for its big brother. Open roster spots in the Elite League are filled by top players from lower level Development League.
“It was a lot faster,” said Jackson, who led Tartan in scoring last season as a sophomore with 26 points (16 goals, 10 assists) in 26 games. “A lot less time and space.”
Bergh and Tapani also scored against Team North, as the all-Minnesota line combined for six points.
The bolstered Manitoba lineup had a considerably better showing. Manitoba tied Great Plains 2-2 and trailed Team North 4-3 heading into the third period. Team Southeast won 10-2 in Manitoba’s other weekend game.
“They treated us all well,” Jackson said about his new teammates. “They were really happy we played.”
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
A four-goal explosion in the third period put the Sunday, Sept. 18, Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League game out of reach as Team North defeated Manitoba 8-3.
Thirteen players registered at least one point for Team North.
Hibbing junior forward Adam Johnson notched three points (one goal, two assists) and junior defenseman Jake Bischoff (Grand Rapids) contributed three assists.
Team North also saw big production from the squad's six Duluth East players -- Meirs Moore, Trevor Olson, Jake Randoph, Nate Repensky, Don Toninato and Conner Valesano -- who put up a total of nine points (four goals, five assists).
Senior Erikur Arnason (Greenway-Coleraine) made 12 saves for Team North in the winning effort.
Manitoba ends its winless run in the Elite League with the loss -- only managing to stay out of the losing column in one game against Great Plains on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Team North will take a break from traveling as Elite League action will be in Duluth during the Sept. 24-25 weekend. Serving as the home team at Mars Arena, Team North will face Team Northeast on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 10 a.m.
-- Michael Murakami, MN Hockey Hub staff
1. Adam Johnson, Team North
A fan-favorite and the only player in either class to register a hat trick during the 2011 State Tournament, the Hibbing junior forward seems to be picking things up right where he left off. Johnson scored a goal and added two assists in the winning effort over Manitoba and seems to have kept the speed he displayed last season.
2. Jake Bischoff, Team North
The Grand Rapids junior defenseman had an excellent day in the offensive zone notching three assists in the game. Bischoff is now tied for second in scoring on Team North with six points (two goals, four assists).
3. Trevor Olson, Team North
After not playing in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League last year, Olson is off to a great start in 2011 and leads Team North in scoring with eight points (four goals, four assists). Two of those goals came in the game against Manitoba and the Duluth East senior forward was a noticeable presence in the offensive zone throughout the game.
-- Michael Murakami, MN Hockey Hub Staff