One of the top scorers in the WCHA’s highest-scoring decade, Wisconsin’s Mark Johnson has been named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Decade for the 1970’s.
Johnson, who was named to the WCHA’s All-Decade Team earlier this week, finished his three-year career with 256 points (125g-131a) in 125 career games with the Badgers, an average of 85 points per season. His career points total ranks No. 11 in league history while his goal total is No. 6 all-time and his assist total is tied for 24th in WCHA history.
Johnson played for his father, the late Bob Johnson, during his three seasons in Madison. He captured WCHA Freshman of the Year honors in 1976-77 as Wisconsin won its first NCAA Championship with a 37-7-1 record. Johnson tallied 80 points on 36 goals and 44 assists in his rookie campaign. He earned the first of two All-America and All-WCHA honors as a sophomore, netting 86 points on 48 goals and 38 assists and sharing WCHA Scoring Champion honors with 70 points in 31 league games. Johnson repeated the All-America/All-WCHA double as a junior with a 90-point campaign (41g-49a).
Johnson would forego his senior season after being tabbed for a spot on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, tallying 70 points in pre-Olympic competition before leading the team in scoring in Lake Placid with 11 points as the United States stunned the world on the way to the Gold Medal.
Johnson scored one of the most-critical goals of the tournament for the United States in their upset of the Soviet Union, pouncing on a rebound at the Soviet net and tying the game as time expired in the first period. Johnson would tie the game again in the third period as the U.S. went on to complete a 4-3 victory. Two days later, he assisted on the game-winning goal in the Gold Medal winning 4-2 win over Finland.
Following the Olympics, Johnson would go on to an 11-year career in the NHL with Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Hartford, St. Louis and New Jersey.
In 2002, he returned to his alma mater as the head coach of the Badgers’ women’s program. Now in his 18th season, he has build a Wisconsin program that is one of the most successful in women’s hockey. The Badgers have won five NCAA Championships, eight WCHA postseason crowns and eight league regular season titles. On Oct. 12, 2019, Johnson became the first head coach in NCAA women’s hockey history to win 500 games. Through January 16, his career record stands at 528-94-46 (.825).
A charter member of Wisconsin’s Athletics Hall of Fame, he is the only Badger men’s hockey player to have his jersey retired. In 2002, Johnson was named to the WCHA’s Top 50 Players in 50 years list and in 2004, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Johnson is the third of seven Player of the Decade honorees that will be announced by the WCHA during the current season. Minnesota’s John Mayasich was named the Player of the Decade in the 1950’s and Minnesota Duluth’s Keith Christiansen was named the Player of the Decade in the 1960’s.