Hibbing/Chisholm sophomore Adam Johnson has verabally commited to play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Photo by Tim Kolehmainen
The message was relayed to Adam Johnson from his dad.
“Call Scott Sandelin.”
The Hibbing sophomore does as he is told, so the next thing you know Johnson and Sandelin, head coach at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, were talking hockey, discussing the future and …
“He offered me a scholarship,” Johnson said about the Tuesday, March 15. “I said, ‘Yeah.’
"I've wanted to go to there since I was in the fifth grade.”
Quick as that, one of the state’s most electrifying players had at least part of his future mapped out.
The 5-foot-10, 150-pound Johnson’s scintillating state tournament performance, highlighted by hat trick in the Bluejackets' Class 1A semifinal loss to Hermantown, put the high-scoring forward on the statewide radar. But, other than the Bulldogs, Johnson said he didn’t talk to any other colleges after the tournament.
“No, not really any teams talked to me,” Johnson said about the reaction upon his return home. “But a lot of people (in Hibbing) were pretty excited, it seemed like.
“I kind of was surprised. I didn’t think it would be that big of deal. I just played as good as I could.”
Hibbing/Chisholm's Adam Johnson scored 42 goals last season. Photo by Tim Kolehmainen
Johnson had four goals and an assist in three state tournament games and finished the season with 42 goals and 43 assists. Hibbing finished with an 18-11-2 record after its 3-0 loss to Thief River Falls in the state tournament’s third-place game.
“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise,” Hibbing coach Mark DeCenzo said. “Although I wasn’t expecting it this soon. That is definitely where he wanted to go, so it wasn’t a shock.”
Johnson is one of the few state sophomores to commit to a Division I program in recent years. Lakeville South's Kyle Osterberg committed to UMD last year after his freshman season. Mahtomedi's Ben Marshall verbally agreed to play for the University of Minnesota as a sophomore in 2008.
Johnson’s father, Dave Johnson, played for UMD and registered 81 points in 115 games for the Bulldogs in a career that ended in 1981. Johnson’s hockey bloodlines extend to his uncle Gary DeGrio, another former UMD star. DeGrio, who played his high school hockey in Grand Rapids, scored 97 points in 145 games from 1978-82.
Dave Johnson and Scott Sandelin, a Hibbing native who played at the University of North Dakota, are friends. Throw in the family ties to the Bulldogs, Duluth’s proximity to Hibbing and there was an abundance of factors pushing Johnson toward UMD.
“I’m sure that rink is helping a lot, too,” Johnson said about the Bulldogs’ new home, Amsoil Arena, and its impact on recruiting. “I was there watching a game a few weeks ago. It was really nice.”
|Name||High School||Year||Pos.||College||Verbal Commit|
|Jonny Brodzinski||Blaine||Senior||F||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Patrick Daly||Benilde-St. Margaret's||Senior||D||Wisconsin||Yes|
|Steven Fogarty||Edina||Senior||F||Notre Dame||Yes|
|Tyler Heinonen||Delano||Senior||F||Michigan Tech||Yes|
|Garrett Hendrickson||Virginia||Senior||F||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Bob Kinne||Cretin-Derham Hall||Senior||F||Bemidji State||Yes|
|Joseph LaBate||Holy Angels||Senior||F||Wisconsin||Yes|
|Ross Luedtke||Orono||Senior||F||Air Force Academy||Yes|
|Alex Lyon||Lake of the Woods||Senior||G||Yale||Yes|
|Justin Kloos||Lakeville South||Junior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|A.J. Michaelson||Apple Valley||Junior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|Bill Norman||Rochester Mayo||Senior||D||Maine||Yes|
|Kyle Rau||Eden Prairie||Senior||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|Brady Riesgraf||Holy Family Catholic||Senior||D||Bemidji State||Yes|
|Zach Schroeder||St. Thomas Academy||Senior||F||RPI||Yes|
|Nick Seeler||Eden Prairie||Senior||D||Nebraska-Omaha||Yes|
|Michael Sit||Edina||Senior||F||Boston College||Yes|