Staff Directory 10645146

Randy Johnson

Producer | Puck Drop
Phone: 612-673-7664
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Randy Johnson is the producer of Puck Drop for the Star Tribune. He previously was the beat writer for University of Minnesota football and hockey, along with other college sports.

Johnson also spent 17 years as sports copy editor/layout editor at the Star Tribune after five years in a similar role with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. From 1991 through 1995, he was assistant sports editor and Penn State football beat writer for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.
Recent content from Randy Johnson
The St. Paul Saints celebrated their American Association championship Saturday night at CHS Field.

Saints sweep Sioux City to win American Association championship

A grand slam by Chesny Young put the Saints ahead in the sixth inning, en route to their first title in 15 years.
Jack Blatherwick, shown in 1985, received a national hockey honor Friday that has gone to the likes of Herb Brooks, John Mariucci, John Mayasich, Phil

Former Brooks assistant Blatherwick receives national hockey award

Jack Blatherwick, a longtime Minnesota high school coach, received the 2019 Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey.
St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso’s football teams have won six MIAC titles in his 11 seasons leading the program.

Ousted St. Thomas to open awkward football season as one of MIAC favorites

In May, the MIAC Presidents' Council announced it was involuntarily removing St. Thomas, which will line up on the football field against schools that demanded the Tommies find somewhere else to play.
Krissy Wendell practiced with the Wild in 2017 as part of Minnesota Wild Girls Hockey Weekend.

Former Gophers and Olympic star Wendell picked for U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Krissy Wendell, one of the most-decorated players in Minnesota history, will be one of five 2019 inductees into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, USA Hockey announced Wednesday.
North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance celebrated with teammates in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in the first half.

Lance puts on a show for 34,544 at Target Field in NDSU's 57-10 rout

Redshirt freshman Trey Lance completed 10 of 11 passes for 185 yards and four touchdowns and added 116 rushing yards, including TD runs of 61 and 33 yards.
North Dakota State celebrated its latest FCS championship win, this one over Eastern Washington on Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.

Bison invasion: 35,000 fans expected for NDSU opener at Target Field

The Twin Cities area has more than 15,000 North Dakota State alumni, so there's a built-in fan base that can augment the caravan that will travel down I-94 from Fargo.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau and players Luke Kunin and Jared Spurgeon watched the press conference introducting general manager Bill Guerin on Thursday

Wild veterans excited about Guerin. 'When he's talking, you're listening.'

"Just hearing how confident he is in the way he's thinking is going to be good for us.," said veteran defenseman Jared Spurgeon.
Zach Parise talked with reporters April 9 after the Wild season ended.

Parise shocked by firing of Wild's GM, wonders what's ahead for team

Zach Parise says he's looking forward to seeing who will be chosen to replace Paul Fenton and the direction the new leadership will take the Wild after last season's struggles.
St. Thomas football coach Glenn Caruso made his first public comments since the MIAC announced the Tommies will be out of the league in 2021.

St. Thomas coach defends program: 'I cannot apologize for who we are'

St. Thomas has two more seasons of MIAC football before it embarks on a to-be-determined future after being ousted from the conference.

Jason Zucker's still here, even after Wild General Manager Paul Fenton gets ousted

Winger didn't relish Paul Fenton's firing, even after he was nearly traded twice.
Alaska Anchorage’s Jeremiah Luedtke played against Michigan Tech in a WCHA game last season.

WCHA's uncertainty grows with Alaska financial emergency

The WCHA will have men's hockey this season, but it remains uncertain if the Alaska programs will survive and be part of it.
Alaska forward Ryker Leer played at Bowling Green in February.

WCHA's demise stems from geography, struggling programs

Seven teams plan to abandon the league, compounding problems for Alaska's two college hockey programs.
Minnesota State Mankato and head coach Mike Hastings could be moving to a new conference before long.

Seven schools, including Mankato, Bemidji State, begin process of leaving WCHA

The three current members of the WCHA men's league that aren't involved in the move are the ones that are the furthest away from the Minnesota-based conference — Alabama Huntsville, Alaska and Alaska Anchorage.
Francis Ngannou lands a decisive and heavy punch on former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. Ngannou won the bout with an early first round

Ngannou takes UFC main event at Target Center; 'Crochet Boss' wins

Maurice Greene's victory created Saturday night's the buzz around the octagon. Hours later, Francis Ngannou put a cap on the night with a quick and decisive TKO.
Maurice Greene, who’ll fight in the UFC Fight Night’s preliminary card Saturday at Target Center, uses crochet as a diversion from the Octagon.

Dream weaver: Meet UFC's mean Maurice Greene, aka 'The Crochet Boss'

The St. Cloud resident, who got hooked on crocheting before his fighting career, will challenge Brazil's Junior Albini in a heavyweight UFC bout Saturday at Target Center.
Incoming Gophers recruit Bryce Brodzinski of Blaine earned Mr. Hockey honors this season, with 32 goals and 44 assists in 23 games.

Gophers men's hockey gets much younger with signing of 11 players

The Gophers announced a class of 11 incoming freshmen for 2019-20, a group that includes six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies

Competitive fire burns bright for Shattuck-St. Mary's Jackson LaCombe

A title-game loss months ago still bothers the high-scoring defenseman.
Jackson LaCombe, right, scored 22 goals and assisted on 67 for Shattuck-St. Mary's in the 2018-19 season. He'll continue his career with the Gophers t

Competitive fire burns bright for Shattuck-St. Mary's Jackson LaCombe

A title-game loss still bothers the high-scoring defenseman, who'll begin his Gophers career this fall but first will hear his name called in the NHL draft this weekend.
Wild goalie Alex Stalock, left, and Canterbury Park announcer Paul Allen have developed a friendship over the years and have invested on a handful of

Alex Stalock, Paul Allen kick back at the track as their filly races

The Wild goalie and the Canterbury Park announcer are good friends and part-owners of a filly, One Famous Ocean, that's had some success at the Shakopee horse track.
Minnesota Whitecaps goaltender Amanda Leveille celebrated with the Isobel Cup at Tria Rink on March 17 after a 2-1, overtime victory over the Buffalo

Amid labor dispute, goalie Leveille re-signs with Whitecaps

The former Gophers goalie is returning to the Whitecaps after helping them win an NWHL title.
Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveiville (29) denied a shot by the Metropolitan Riveters Madison Packer (14) in the NWHL semifinals in March at Tria Rink.

NWHL plows forward with plans for next season amid player boycott

The Minnesota Whitecaps' league says it's 'open for business,' and intent on growing women's hockey.
Allen Americans coach Steve Martinson, a Minnetonka native and former St. Cloud State standout, posted his 1,000th coaching victory in March. Martinso

Hockey lifer Steve Martinson piles up the wins and isn't slowing down

The Minnetonka native, former St. Cloud State standout and longtime enforcer surpassed 1,000 coaching wins this season for Allen of the ECHL. Only Scotty Bowman and John Brophy have won more games as a pro coach.
Jim Smith, in his office at St. John's in Collegeville, in 2015

St. Thomas' dismissal from MIAC triggers firestorm: 'Don't cry about it ... try to get better'

Three former MIAC athletes, a former coach and a future Tommie openly shared their opinions on this week's news that St. Thomas will be "involuntarily removed from membership'' in the league after 2021.
Team Stecklein forward Allie Thunstrom (9) shoots against Team Szabados goalie Shannon Szabados in the NWHL All-Star Hockey Game Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019

Whitecaps re-sign All-Star Thunstrom amid NWHL tensions

Other unionized players have vowed not to play next season, but Allie Thunstrom is back with the Whitecaps.
UST head coach Glen Caruso and the rest of the football team celebrated on the sideline as the clock ran out in December 2012.

St. Thomas vows to 'attack what's next' after being kicked out of MIAC

Options include finding a new Division III conference, jumping to Division II or beginning a climb to Division I, a process that would take 12 years.
Minnesota Whitecaps co-head coach Ronda Engelhardt spoke to players during an early practice. The team won the NWHL title, but there are questions abo

Whitecaps founder: Boycott endangers U.S. women's pro league

Minnesota Whitecaps founder Jack Brodt's comments came after more than 200 players vowed not to play next season unless a financially stable league is established
Minnesota Whitecaps celebrated Lee Stecklein's game-winning overtime goal that gave the Minnesota Whitecaps the NWHL title in March.

Whitecaps, Olympians won't play women's pro hockey until demands met

More than 200 women's hockey players, including members of the Minnesota Whitecaps and gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. Olympic team, say they won't play in any North American league until demands are met.
Goaltender Hunter Shepard helped lead Minnesota Duluth past Notre Dame for last year’s NCAA championship in St. Paul. Now Shepard and the Bulldogs a

UMD's goalie brings 10-0 postseason run into Frozen Four semifinal

Hunter Shepard's route to Minnesota Duluth didn't follow a direct path after being named the top high school goalie in the state five years ago.
Defenseman Jackson LaCombe is one of the standouts for Shattuck-St. Mary's top-ranked boys' prep team. The Gophers recruit entered the national tourna

Shattuck-St. Mary's hockey teams take aim at national titles

The Faribault boarding school's boys' and girls' prep teams are ranked No. 1 and are favorites to win USA Hockey Tier I national titles. They are a combined 83-10-7.
Brothers Jack (3), Nick (center) and Ryan (11) Poehling have combined for 24 goals and 42 assists for St. Cloud State.

Poehling brothers give St. Cloud State a line to rely on

The three brothers have been together on the same line since a teammate went down with an injury for the Huskies, who have the top seed in the NCAA men's hockey field.
Minnesota State Mankato's Marc Michaelis, a junior from Germany, has 19 goals and 22 assists this season.

Minnesota trio of No. 1 seeds aims for Frozen Four

A quick look at St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State Mankato.
Coach Scott Sandelin's UMD team is one of three from Minnesota that has earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's hockey field.

UMD wins NCHC Frozen Faceoff in double overtime over St. Cloud State

Nick Swaney scored on 2-on-1 rush 7:29 into the second overtime, giving the Bulldogs a 3-2 victory.
St. Cloud State leading scorer Patrick Newell.

Minnesota rules: St. Cloud State, UMD, Mankato land No. 1 hockey seeds

For the first time since the formation of a 16-team NCAA men's hockey field in 2003, Minnesota — or any state for that matter — has three No. 1 seeds.
St. Cloud State forward Robby Jackson scored in the second period

St. Cloud State beats Colorado College 5-2 in NCHC semifinals

Patrick Newell and Nolan Walker scored goals 24 seconds apart in the first period for St. Cloud State, which advanced to Saturday night's championship game

Minnesota Duluth's big third period breaks stalemate with Denver in NCHC semifinal

Hunter Shepard made 25 saves in a 3-0 shutout.
St. Cloud State’s Easton Brodzinski (26) and teammates celebrated a goal at last year’s NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

No. 1 St. Cloud State ready for rugged NCHC tournament

St. Cloud State headlines league tournament that has three of the NCAA's top five teams.
The Gophers were excited last weekend. They still are. “There’s a buzz in the air,” forward Brannon McManus said.

Gophers are 2 wins from NCAA berth (and 1 loss from being done)

Minnesota is 7-1 in its past eight games going into Big Ten semifinal vs. Irish.
The St. Cloud State team bus got stuck in a drift in Watonwan County on Sunday.

St. Cloud State hockey team stranded, sheriff offers jail for shelter

The Huskies' bus got stuck on a road near St. James, where the sheriff gave them shelter and food -- and would have put them up in the county jail, if needed.
The Gophers return home this week for the first time since their Feb. 1-2 split with Michigan.

Gophers hockey will try again to build on success after repreated stumbles

Bob Motzko has seen it all season. His Gophers men's hockey team puts together a solid, consistent, successful weekend. Then it regresses.
Ohio State forward Tanner Laczynski celebrated a goal at the NCAA Frozen Four in St. Paul last April.

Ohio St. dominates Big Ten men's hockey; U and others scramble

The Gophers, swept last week at Penn State, and the rest of the conference are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament.
Gophers goalie Steve Janaszak makes a save against Bowling Green on March 19, 1979, as defenseman Mike Greeder (28) swoops in to help.

'79 Gopher hockey champs will gather to remember 'golden time,' Herb Brooks

Herb Brooks coached the third title team in a six-year span, and players will gather Saturday for a reunion.
Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams, left, celebrates a touchdown with Micah Dew-Treadway, center, and quarterback Ian Book during the second half

Fleck gets transfer from Notre Dame, but loses defensive tackle Smith

When P.J. Fleck assembled his 2019 recruiting class during December's early signing period, he left left wiggle room to delve into college football's growing transfer market.
Jahmile Addae coached at Arizona before coming to Minnesota.

Gophers lose defensive backs coach Addae to West Virginia

Jahmile Addae will return to the school for which he was a four-year starter and three-time All-Big East defensive back from 2001-05.
Kirk Ciarrocca came to the Gophers with head coach P.J. Fleck.

Gophers offensive coordinator Ciarrocca staying in Minnesota

The offense made big strides from 2017, the first year under coach P.J. Fleck and Kirk Ciarrocca, who is known for his work with quarterbacks.
Kirk Ciarrocca, the Gophers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, is being pursued by West Virginia for a position on its coaching staff, b

U offensive coordinator Ciarrocca being pursued by West Virginia

Kirk Ciarrocca has coached under P.J. Fleck since 2013 at Western Michigan. Also, defensive line coach Marcus West is leaving to join the coaching staff at Charlotte in Conference USA.
Coach P.J. Fleck and the Gophers hoisted the Quick Lane Bowl champions trophy after stomping Georgia Tech 34-10 in Detroit on Wednesday.

Ibrahim, Johnson help Gophers crush Georgia Tech in Quick Lane Bowl

Mohamed Ibrahim -- the game MVP -- rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns and Tyler Johnson caught two touchdown passes in one of Minnesota's most dominant performances of the season.
Gophers starting linebacker Kamal Martin (21, shown in a game earlier this season against Northwestern) did not make the trip to the Quick Lane Bowl a

Gophers LB Martin suspended, doesn't make trip to Detroit

Kamal Martin, a junior from Burnsville, was a mainstay in the starting lineup and was the team's fourth-leading tackler during the regular season with 59.
Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck has a slew of talented freshmen, especially on offense, including (from left) wide receiver Demetrius Douglas, quart

Gophers view Quick Lane Bowl berth as a gift

It's not 'just' the Quick Lane Bowl for coach P.J. Fleck and his roster full of freshmen.
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall handed off to running back Jerry Howard last month. Marshall has run for 896 yards this year, Howard 561.

Gophers' biggest bowl challenge: Georgia Tech's triple-threat attack

The run-heavy approach features quarterback sweeps, pitches to a trio of running backs, motion and misdirection. "When you get a triple-option team, everything changes," P.J. Fleck said.
Gophers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, seen talking with the media after a practice.

Time in D-III helped prep Rossi to be Gophers defensive coordinator

Rossi embraces the path he took from Division III to the Big Ten, he says, because "when you're there, you have to do everything."
A 6-6 record got Gophers coach P.J. Fleck a bowl game and extra practice time. But how much value does that provide a college football program?

How much of an edge will the Gophers get by making it to a bowl?

North Score: Michael Rand and Gophers beat reporter Randy Johnson debate and discuss the possible added value to the Gophers program by its presence in Wednesday's Quick Lane Bowl.
Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck announced the team's 2019 signing class on Wednesday.

Next stop for Fleck: College football's new 'free-agent market'

Coach P.J. Fleck talked about the new national database that lets athletes submit their names and desire to transfer, allowing coaches from other schools to contact them.
Gophers quarterbacks Zack Annexstad, left, and Tanner Morgan will compete with each other and two newcomers for the starting job next fall.

Gophers' starting quarterback job could be a four-way race next season

When the Gophers open the 2019 season against South Dakota State, either Tanner Morgan or Zack Annexstad will start, right? Not so fast, coach P.J. Fleck said.
From left: Jason Williamson, Owatonna running back going to the Gophers; Bryce Benhart, Lakeville North offensive lineman heading to Nebraska; Quinn C

Fleck's recruiting hits Top 40 chart again. Will it bring football gold to U?

The Gophers' incoming recruiting class is ranked 33rd in the nation, hitting the top 40 for the second straight year. College football writer Randy Johnson explains what it means, and reminds you who was coaching last time that happened.
P.J. Fleck

U regents approve Fleck extension, under contract through 2023

In his second year with the Gophers, P.J. Fleck guided the team to a 6-6 record including a victory over Wisconsin and an invitation to the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit.
Coach P.J. Fleck (above) and athletic director Mark Coyle did not return messages Tuesday seeking comment about players who have been disciplined.

Several U players disciplined, face possible bowl game suspension

At least six Gophers football players have been disciplined and have not been allowed to practice recently in preparation for the Quick Lane Bowl.
Blake Cashman was the Gophers’ top defensive player this season.

Cashman will skip Gophers' bowl game to prepare for NFL draft

Senior linebacker Blake Cashman, the team's leading tackler, announced on Twitter that he won't play in the Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl.
Second-year coach P.J. Fleck has a chance to lead the Gophers to a winning season in their return to the Quick Lane Bowl.

'It's the next right step.' Gophers face Georgia Tech in Quick Lane Bowl

The Gophers will face a unique challenge on defense and a coach who will be on the sidelines for the final time as their reward for making a bowl game in P.J. Fleck's second season.
TaQuon Marshall, one of the signal-callers in Georgia Tech’s two-quarterback attack, has accounted for more than 1,700 yards of offense and 11 touch

About Georgia Tech, Gophers' opponent in Quick Lane Bowl

The Yellow Jackets won their opener before losing three games in a row. But they won six of their next seven games to secure bowl eligibility before losing their regular-season finale, 45-21 at Georgia.
After 15 years the Gophers took back the Paul Bunyan Axe after they defeated Wisconsin 37-15 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

The Axe is back: Gophers end long losing streak to Wisconsin

With Saturday's 37-15 victory by the bowl-eligible Gophers, Paul Bunyan's Axe is going back to Minneapolis for the first time since 2003.

Rossi earns job as Gophers full-time defensive coordinator

Joe Rossi was named interim defensive coordinator after Fleck fired Robb Smith following the 55-31 loss at Illinois on Nov. 3, and the defense responded.
“It’s not very difficult to tell our players a little bit about this week and what it means,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said.

Rivalry game vs. Wisconsin more about opportunity for Gophers

Saturday's game might be Minnesota's only chance for nearly a full calendar year to impress that noncommittal bloc known as casual fans in this sports-saturated market.
The Gophers football team lifted up Paul Bunyan's Axe in 2003 after Rhys Lloyd's field goal.

Tradition worth breaking? Calling hero from last time U won the Axe

It's Gophers-Wisconsin week, and that means Rhys Lloyd is getting an annual chance to reminisce about a career kicking highlight.
Coach P. J. Fleck laments that the Gophers have a minus-9 turnover margin, which ranks 13th among the 14 Big Ten teams, entering Saturday’s regular-

Fleck says Gophers need to reduce turnovers

Minnesota is minus-11 in turnovers in Big Ten play, heading into the regular-season finale at Wisconsin.
Jonathan Taylor ran in for a touchdown vs. Rutgers, one of seven TDs the Wisconsin star has scored in three games this month.

Gophers seek a way to slow down Badgers' Taylor

The Wisconsin star running back is nearing 2,000 rushing yards.
Minnesota linebacker Kamal Martin interfered with a a pass intended for Northwestern's wide receiver Trey Pugh in the end zone during the first quarte

Northwestern finds offense late, leaves Gophers tough road to bowl bid

The Gophers couldn't get that sixth win Saturday because Big Ten West Division-champion Northwestern played mostly error-free football and owned the key situations in a 24-14 victory.
Blake Cashman celebrated after he sacked Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson

Gophers' senior Cashman makes 20 tackles in final home game

"We're going to miss that young man one day,'' Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "He's an incredible player.''
The Gophers last went to a bowl game in 2016, when Minnesota wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky held the Holiday Bowl trophy alongside the team after they

Can the Gophers get to a bowl? If so, where will they go?

College Football Insider: Big Ten bowl guesses start at the top with two national playoff possibilities. The Gophers need to win one of their last two games to get to a postseason game.
Northwestern running back Isaiah Bowser runs up field during a 34-yard touchdown run in the second half vs. Iowa.

Northwestern to take 'championship approach' vs. Gophers

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said even though the Wildcats are assured a spot in the Big Ten title game the final two weeks of the regular season will be played with a "championship approach."
Gophers linebacker Blake Cashman recovered a fumble and ran 40 yards for a touchdown against Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium last Saturday. Cashman also ha

Will it continue? Linebackers were energy source in U's upset of Purdue

New defensive coordinator Joe Rossi said the team's linebackers were big in beating the Boilermakers. One more victory will make the Gophers eligible for a bowl game.
Gophers wide receiver Phillip Howard, who played several positions in high school, might be tried at cornerback.

Gophers wide receiver Howard might get a chance at cornerback

At Cooper High School, Phillip Howard was a jack of all trades, playing quarterback, receiver, defensive back and return specialist.
Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck

U cuts ties with top football recruit after domestic battery charge

Once the top-rated player in the Gophers football recruiting class of 2019, Jason Bargy faces charges in Illinois and is no longer in Minnesota's plans.
Linebacker Blake Cashman put some distance between the Gophers and Purdue on Saturday when he returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown.

U's defensive revival: 'We tackled well, we rallied to the ball'

P.J. Fleck had a thought about why the Gophers defense rebounded in his team's lopsided victory over Purdue. And was Blake Cashman robbed of an honor he deserved?
Minnesota linebacker Blake Cashman celebrated after sacking Purdue quarterback David Blough during the second quarter Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

New voice, new result: Gophers shine on defense to crush Purdue

In Joe Rossi's first game as interim defensive coordinator, the Gophers limited the Boilermakers to just 233 total yards and won 41-10 at cold, snowy TCF Bank Stadium.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim ran with the ball despite pressure from Purdue safety Navon Mosley during the third quarter Saturday at TCF Bank

Ibrahim's effort sets tone for Gophers offense

Operating behind an offensive line that won one-on-one battles throughout Saturday's game, the 5-10, 205-pound Mohamed Ibrahim got better as the game went on.
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