Mark Johnson isn’t so much a hockey historian as he is a coach, but Johnson certainly is aware Richfield’s robust hockey tradition.
After all, he is a part of it.
Johnson, who played on the Spartans’ 1986 state tournament team, has coached at various youth levels in Richfield and served as an assistant for Richfield’s boys’ and girls’ programs, most recently the Richfield boys.
Johnson was recently hired as head coach of the Richfield boys’ program, taking over for John Christ.
“It will be exciting,” said Johnson, who played at UW-Superior. “I just enjoy Richfield. It’s my alma matter. I enjoy the kids, I enjoy the program. I think it’s a great community.”
Christ resigned this spring after guiding Richfield to a 23-54-2 record in three seasons. Johnson primarily handled the forwards during his three seasons assisting Christ, and Richfield produced two of the state’s top scorers last season in seniors Mick Dhein (65 points) and Tyler Martinez (59 points).
Featuring future NHL goaltender Damian Rhodes, Richfield upset the likes of No. 1-ranked Edina and Minnetonka during its improbable run to the one-class state tournament in 1986, Johnson’s senior season. Richfield also made state tournament appearances in 1962, ’63, ’64, ’76 and 1991, producing legendary players such as 1980 Olympian Steve Christoff and 1991 Mr. Hockey Darby Hendrickson.
The Spartans no longer have the numbers or talent to consistently compete with the state’s juggernaut programs. Richfield does not have a junior varsity program, and its youth program has merged with Bloomington Kennedy’s.
“We do have a lot of mites,” Johnson said. “I think we have 75 mites. And we have at least two teams, and maybe even three teams, at the Squirt level.”
Johnson, who also served as an assistant coach for the Lakeville girls program for four years in the early 2000s, said he still sees a fierce will to win in Richfield’s players.
“We have a lot of hard working kids,” Johnson said. “They all compete, that’s what is neat about it.”
|School||2011-12 Coach||2012-13 Coach||Comment||Job Listing/More Info|
|Austin||Tim Peterson||Erik LaRock||LaRock, an elementary school teacher, has coached in the Austin youth hockey program the past three seasons and has also served as the Austin High girls golf coach the past two seasons. He played collegiate hockey at Saint Mary's University in Winona. Peterson guided the Packers for three seasons, compiling a 17-61-0 record. Austin went 4-22-0 last season, losing to Albert Lea 6-0 in the opening round of the Section 1AA playoffs.||More info|
|Bagley/Fosston||Mike Olson||Jacob Seuntjens||Seuntjens is an Eveleth native who has been teaching and coaching in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Olson guided the Flyers to a 19-51-0 record in three seasons. Bagley/Fosston was ousted by Red Lake Falls 3-1 in the first round of last season's Section 8A playoffs.|
|Cambridge-Isanti||Chad Carlson||Mark Kissner||Carlson, who guided the Bluejackets to a 5-21-0 record last season, resigned in August.||Job Listing|
|Chaska||Mike Johnson||Dave Snuggerud||Snuggerud previously coached the Hawks for nine seasons, stepping down in 2007 to spend more time with his young family. Snuggerud was a high-scoring forward at the University of Minnesota who played four seasons in the NHL. His nephew, Luc, is a top defenseman at Eden Prairie. Johnson compiled a 12-40-2 record in two seasons, including a 4-22-0 mark last season. Chaska lost to St. Louis Park 6-2 in the opening round of the Section 2A playoffs.||Feature Story|
|Chisago Lakes||Josh Liebenow||Paul Gibson||Gibson, the Wildcats' third head coach in as many seasons, served as an assistant coach under former head coach Corey McKinnon two seasons ago. He played at Stillwater High School for Andre Beaulieu and was part of an NCAA Division III championship team at UW-River Falls in 1988. Liebenow led the Wildcats to a 10-17-0 record in his lone season as head coach. Chisago Lakes lost to Totino-Grace 7-1 in the quarterfinals of the Section 4A playoffs.||More Info|
|Elk River||Tony Sarsland||Gordie Roberts||Roberts, 51, played 15 seasons in the NHL, including all or parts of eight season with the Minnesota North Stars through much of the 1980s. He leaves the Hamline University men's hockey staff, where he had coached the defense since 2010. Sarsland resigned on Feb. 10 amid a school investigation that included interviewing as many as 20 hockey players. Sarsland was in his 27th season as the Elks' coach. Junior varsity coach Ben Gustafson was named the interim coach.||Feature story|
|Fairmont||Bryan Wilken||Brady Meyer||Meyer is a former Worthington goalie who served as an assistant coach last season. He has a Level 5 coaching certificate from USA Hockey, the highest level a coach can acheive. Wilken took over the program entering the 2009-10 seasons and guided the Cardinals to a 16-51-0 record in his three seasons as head coach. Fairmont went 5-18-0 last season.|
|Faribault||Brad Ryan||Dean Weasler||Weasler was the head junior varsity coach at Farmington the past two seasons. He also coached at Eastview for four years, Burnsville for four years and at St. Cloud State University in the women's program for a year. Ryan, a former Faribault High goaltender, resigned in early March amid a school investigation spurred by a group of parents. Ryan guided the Falcons for four seasons, compiling a 52-53-1 record.||More info|
|Marshall||Kori Pearson||Dave Coudert||Coudert has been Marshall's Bantam coach the past three years after moving from Omaha, Neb. He has served as an assistant coach in the Reebok Minnesota High Performance 15s program. Pearson took over the program in 2004-05, and he guided the Tigers to a 128-72-10 record and five Southwest Conference championships. He stepped down because he and his family are moving to the Twin Cities, where he will serve as an assistant coach in the East Ridge program.||More info|
|Minneapolis||Shawn Reid||Joe Dziedzic||Dziedzic, the former Mr. Hockey winner from Minneapolis who went on to play for the University of Minnesota and in the NHL, had coached St. Paul Academy for the previous two-plus seasons. Reid, who posted a 37-12-4 record in two seasons with the Novas, resigned to take over as head coach of Blake's girls' program. Reid is the assistant director of college counseling at Blake. Minneapolis went 18-9-0 last season, losing 12-0 to Minnetonka in the quarterfinals of the Section 6AA playoffs.||More info|
|Moorhead||Dave Morinville||Pete Cullen||Cullen, the nephew of former Spuds head coach Terry Cullen, was a first-year varsity assistant last year. Cullen takes over on an interim basis, with the position to be open after the 2012-13 season. Morinville played for the Spuds as a goaltender, graduating in 1972. He served as head coach for the last 15 seasons, posting a 275-107-30 record. He announced his resignation at the team banquet on April 30.||More info|
|Moose Lake||Josh Gamst||Trevor Howe||Gamst coached the Rebels for two seasons, compiling a 30-23-1 record.|
|Pine City||Brett Westbrook||Pat Christopherson||Westbrook posted a 9-41-3 record in three seasons .Christopherson posted a 5-36-1 record in two seasons as head coach. The Trojans went 6-17-1 last season, including an 11-1 loss to New Ulm in the Section 3A quarterfinals.|
|Proctor||Tim Schnobrich||Steve Rodberg||Rodberg was an assistant coach at Proctor last season. He also played for the Rails, helping them make the program's only state tournament appearance in 1997, when the Rails finished third. He played for three seasons at Minnesota-Duluth and a final collegiate season at UW-Superior before embarking on a four-year professional career in the minor leagues. Schnobrich was a Rails assistant coach for five seasons before taking over as head coach, a position he held for the last five seasons before stepping down this spring so he could focus more on his company, Stars and Stripes Tool Inc.||Feature Story|
|Richfield||John Christ||Mark Johnson||Johnson played on Richfield's 1986 state tournament team, has coached at various levels in the Richfield youth program and has served as an assistant in both the Richfield boys' and girls' varsity programs. Christ guided the Spartans to a 23-54-2 record in his three seasons as head coach. Richfield went 9-17-1 last season, including a 14-1 loss to Breck in the Section 2A quarterfinals.||Feature Story|
|Robbinsdale Armstrong||Todd Weisjahn||Dan Charleston||Charleston, 27, was an assistant coach for state Class 2A champion Benilde-St. Margaret's last season. He also played at B-SM, winning a state Class 1A championship as a sophomore. He went on to play at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and in three minor leagues during a four-year pro career. Weisjahn was the Falcons' coach for 10 seasons, guiding them to a 108-116-8 record. He led Armstrong to one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent history, a 2-1 Section 6AA quarterfinal win over defending state champion Eden Prairie. The Falcons finished with an 8-18-1 record.||More info|
|Rosemount||Scott Macho||Brad Stepan||Stepan, a high school standout at Hastings, was a New York Rangers draft pick. He has served on the coaching staffs at Hastings and Henry Sibley. Stepan's son, Derek, plays for the Rangers. Macho guided the Irish for seven seasons, compiling a 65-120-2 record, including a 6-21-0 mark last season. Rosemount lost to Eagan 12-0 in the Section 3AA quarterfinals.||More info|
|Roseville||Jeff Pauletti||Pete Aus||Aus, 70, coached for 13 seasons at Bethel College and retired in 2007 as the program's career leader in victories. He had been the head girls' coach at Mounds View. Aus' son, Dave, is the head coach at Blaine. Pauletti resigned on Tuesday, May 8, after saying he had endured five years of "bullying" by parents who accused him of mistreating players. Roseville went 17-9-2 last season, losing to eventual state runner-up Hill-Murray 3-2 in the Section 4AA championship game. Pauletti compiled a 141-87-14 record in nine seasons.||More info|
|St. Cloud Tech||Neil Andruschak||Joel Heitkamp||Heitkamp, who served as an assistant coach for Tech last season, also was the head coach of the Tech girls' program for five seasons. Andruschak led Tech to a 40-36-3 record in three seasons, including an 8-16-2 mark last season. The Tigers lost to Brainerd 4-1 in the Section 8AA quarterfinals.|
|St. Paul Academy||Joe Dziedzic||Bill Owens||Owens served as varsity assistant and head junior varsity coach at St. Thomas Academy for the past eight years. Owens previously served as an assistant at St. Paul Academy during the 1998-99 season, and his father and grandfather both graduated from the school. Dziedzic, a former Mr. Hockey winner at Minneapolis Edison, guided the Spartans to a 24-38-5 record in his two full seasons as head coach. St. Paul Academy went 8-15-3 last season, including a 5-1 loss to Mahtomedi in the quarterfinals of the Section 4A playoffs.||More info|
|Sauk Rapids||Brian McCormack||Brian Nyholm||Nyholm previously served as an assistant coach for the College of St. Benedict women's program. McCormack, in his second season leading the Storm, resigned on Jan. 23. Sauk Rapids had an 8-8-1 record when he stepped down. McCormack posted a 16-27-1 record guiding the program. Jerry DeGagne completed the season as the Storm's interim coach.||More info|
|South St. Paul||Jeff Lagoo||Scott Macho||Macho, who played at St. Olaf College, was head coach at Rosemount for seven seasons, including 2011-12 when he guided the Irish to a 6-21-0 record. Lagoo guided the Packers for 14 seasons, compiling a 174-156-18 record. South St. Paul went 11-13-3 last season, losing to eventual Class 1A champion South St. Paul 5-0 in the Section 4A semifinals.||Feature Story|
|Warroad||Steve Haataja||Jay Hardwick||Hardwick is a former Warriors standout who played four seasons at Minnesota-Duluth and six seasons in the minor leagues. He served as a Warroad assistant coach last season. Haataja coached the Warriors for one season, compiling a 14-12-1 record that included a 4-3 loss to East Grand Forks in the Section 8A semifinals.|
|Worthington||Pat Christopherson||Nate Grimmius||Grimmius, a former Worthington player who graduated in 1998, has served as a head Bantam coach in the town's youth program the past two seasons. He also works as a detective in the Worthington Police Department. Christopherson posted a 6-36-1 record in two seasons as head coach. The Trojans went 5-17-1 last season, including an 11-1 loss to New Ulm in the Section 3A quarterfinals.|