Fourth co-captain added to Gophers leadership group – The Rink Live
MINNEAPOLIS — There were options to be had for Minnesota Gophers defenseman Ryan Johnson over the summer. He considered them all and picked the one that, with hard work and a bit of luck, could mean a national championship in April 2023.
Johnson, a senior defenseman, opted to return to the U of M for his senior year rather than sign a contract with the Buffalo Sabers, who picked him in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft. On Thursday, the Gophers rewarded that loyalty to the program where Ryan and his father, Craig, served as student-athletes. Johnson was added to the Gophers’ management group, as the fourth co-captain.
He joins fellow defensemen Brock Faber and Jackson LaCombe and forward Jaxon Nelson in carrying a C for the Gophers.
Johnson grew up in Southern California, but has roots in Gopherland. Craig, his father, who is now an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL, played prep hockey at Hill-Murray and spent three years with the Gophers before landing on the West Coast as a player in the NHL. Known as a low-key person in the locker room, Ryan Johnson has drawn praise for his game that lacks flash but is extremely effective.
“He’s got a fire in his stomach, no doubt, and he’s competing at as high a level as I’ve seen him,” former Gophers assistant coach Garrett Raboin said as the team headed out. the Frozen Four last season. “You don’t always see it in the emotions on his face, but you can see it in his game.”
In addition to his games work, Johnson has been known to sometimes spend 45 minutes or more on the ice after practice, going through skating and shooting drills. He is coming off his best season statistically, having posted three goals and 16 assists while skating in all 39 games for the Gophers. He also finished second on the team in blocked shots with 45.