Staff Directory 6370506

Randy Johnson

Producer | Puck Drop
Phone: 612-673-7664

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
University of Massachusetts men’s hockey players rushed onto the ice to celebrate after defeating St. Cloud State 5-0 Saturday to claim the program�

College hockey pushed through challenging season to a UMass title

Hockey East claims it's "State of Hockey," but Minnesota can make a strong rebuttal.
Massachusetts forward Jake Gaudet yelled in celebration while holding the NCAA men’s hockey national championship trophy

St. Cloud State's run ends with shutout loss in Frozen Four title game

UMass gave the Huskies no room to operate on the ice, dominating a 5-0 victory
Massachusetts forward Garrett Wait (12) celebrated with Philip Lagunov after Lagunov’s shorthanded goal in the second period made it 3-0.

Ex-Gopher Garrett Wait found right fit on line with UMass star

He had the overtime goal in a semifinal win over UMD.
St. Cloud State’s  Nick Perbix and Massachusetts’  Aaron Bohlinger both collided with Minutemen goalie Filip Lindberg in the first period of the c

St. Cloud State's daily focus worked well

Brett Larson and the Huskies navigated a season filled with challenges brought on by COVID-19.
St. Cloud State and Massachusetts during pregame warmups Saturday.

Live from Pittsburgh: Frozen Four pregame

St. Cloud State and Massachusetts meet for the Division I men's championship. The Huskies lineup hasn't changed from the semifinals, while the Minutemen return two key players to their lineup.
Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine made a glove save in the team’s March 6 game against Michigan.

Gophers' Jack LaFontaine wins Richter Award, given to nation's top goalie

LaFontaine, who went 22-7 this season, has announced that he will return to the Gophers next season.
Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield scored the game winner against the Gophers on Feb. 5.

Wisconsin's Cole Caufield wins Hobey Baker Award

The nation's leading goal scorer, Caufield has signed with the Montreal Canadiens.
UMD players reacted to losing to University of Massachusetts 3-2 in overtime on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.

Minnesota Duluth's overtime heartbreak halts an incredible ride

The Bulldogs delivered big moment after big moment in the postseason before getting clipped by Massachusetts on Thursday.
St. Cloud State players swarmed goalie David Hrenak after the Huskies defeated Minnesota State Mankato 5-4 in the NCAA semifinals.

Live from Pittsburgh: Frozen Four Friday

St. Cloud State and Massachusetts are the last teams standings, and Randy Johnson provides updates leading into Saturday's NCAA championship game.
UMD players reacted to losing to UMass, 3-2 in overtime. The Bulldogs had their hopes of an NCAA record fourth straight national championship appearan

Ex-Gopher sinks UMD's three-peat hopes as UMass wins in overtime

The Bulldogs gave up a one-goal lead in the third period, and lost late in the first overtime when former Gophers player Garrett Wait scored for UMass.
St. Cloud State forward Nolan Walker celebrated after scoring the game-winning goal with under a minute to play in regulation.

Walker's last-minute goal caps rally; Huskies top Mavericks in semifinals

Nolan Walker redirected a shot from the point with 54 seconds remaining, sending St. Cloud State to its first NCAA title game.
Minnesota State Mankato players hung their heads in disappointment after losing 5-4 in the men’s hockey national semifinal to St. Cloud State.

Mavericks captain Zmolek take loss hard, sees better days ahead

Minnesota State Mankato won its first two NCAA Division I tournament games this season and a fourth WCHA regular-season title in a row.
Pregame before the first NCAA Frozen Four semifinal at PPG Paints Arena.

Live from the Frozen Four: Thursday updates

St. Cloud State and Minnesota State Mankato start things off with the first semifinal at 4 p.m. (Central). In the 8 p.m. semifinal, Minnesota Duluth faces Massachusetts and will be without goalie Ryan Fanti.
A statue of Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Hall of Fame center Mario Lemieux, left, stands in front of the PPG Paints Arena, site of the Frozen Four.

You Betcha Brigade invades Frozen Four with three Minnesota teams

The semifinals start this afternoon with St. Cloud State vs. Minnesota State at 4 p.m., followed by UMD playing UMass.
A statue of Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Hall of Fame center Mario Lemieux, left, stands in front of the PPG Paints Arena, the site of the 2021 NCAA Men

Frozen Four: Four top players to watch

When Minnesota State Mankato meets St. Cloud State, and Minnesota Duluth takes on Massachusetts in the Frozen Four semifinals, there will be no shortage of star power.
Minnesota State players surround goaltender Dryden McKay after beating the Gophers in the regional final.

Frozen Four preview: St. Cloud State vs. Minnesota State Mankato

The Huskies are playing in their second Frozen Four, making their debut in 2013 with a 4-1 semifinal loss to Quinnipiac. The Mavericks are playing in their first Frozen Four.
UMass players celebrated their Frozen Four overtime victory over Denver in 2019.

UMass coach calls having top scorer, goalie out only slight disadvantage

Coach Greg Carvel isn't about to concede anything to Minnesota Duluth in a rematch of the 2019 national championship game.
UMD Bulldogs forward Cole Koepke (17)

Frozen Four preview: Minnesota Duluth vs. Massachusetts

The Bulldogs are playing in their fourth consecutive Frozen Four and have won the past two, 2-1 over Notre Dame in 2018 and 3-0 over Massachusetts in 2019.
Back view of PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, site of the 2021 NCAA men’s Frozen Four.

Live from Pittsburgh: Frozen Four media day

All four teams are practicing Wednesday for the first time since arriving in Pennsylvania on Monday, and virtual news conferences are following the drills. Randy Johnson will be updating throughout the afternoon.
Local flavor: St. Cloud State will meet Minnesota State, and Minnesota Duluth will face UMass in Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinals in Pittsburgh.

Three in the Frozen Four: Minnesota schools celebrate their success

St. Cloud State, Minnesota State and UMD all qualified for this week's Frozen Four in Pittsburgh. It's a sense of shared accomplishment among the teams and their communities.
UMass celebrated its Frozen Four semifinal victory over Denver in the 2019 Frozen Four.

UMass without leading goal-scorer, top goalie vs UMD in Frozen Four

Carson Gicewicz and Filip Lindberg are among four Minutemen players who are out of Thursday's semifinal because of COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.
Gophers goalie Jared Moe made a save against Arizona State in January.

Gophers goalie crossing border, becoming a Badger

Sophomore Jared Moe, who played high school hockey for Holy Family, announced that he's transferring to Wisconsin.
Mike Hastings is 236-89-24 at Minnesota State, including 22-4-1 this season.

Minnesota State Mankato's Hastings named national coach of the year

Mike Hastings won the Spencer Penrose Award after leading the Mavericks to their first NCAA Frozen Four berth.
From Upper Midwest to the Steel City, three state college hockey teams descend on Frozen Four

From Upper Midwest to the Steel City, three state college hockey teams descend on Frozen Four

But UMass hopes to spoil the Minnesota party.
Jack LaFontaine is one of three finalists for the Richter Award.

Gophers goalie LaFontaine announces he'll be back next season

Jack LaFontaine's decision solidified Minnesota's goaltending situation, as backup Jared Moe has entered the transfer portal.
Mike Hastings, Scott Sandelin and Brett Larson are good friends competing for the Frozen Four title.

Minnesota's three Frozen Four coaches go to school off each other

Mike Hastings, Scott Sandelin and Brett Larson are good friends chasing the same goal – the national title. Along the way, they haven't been hesitant to share knowledge.
Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay stopped a shot by the Gophers’ Sammy Walker during the NCAA West Regional final.

Minnesota State goalie McKay among three Hobey Baker finalists

The goalie joins North Dakota forward Shane Pinto and Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield as finalists for the award that honors the top player in men's college hockey.
Olympic gold medalists and former Gophers Dani Cameranesi, left, and Amanda Kessel are part of the U.S. World Championship roster.

8 with Minnesota ties on U.S. women's world hockey championship roster

The team includes 14 members of the gold medal-winning 2018 Olympic team.
Gophers coach Bob Motzko said that while he’ll take great pride in how this team turned around the program, that didn’t take away the sting of not

It's the State of Hockey in Frozen Four (minus Minnesota)

Three state teams will make Minnesota the dominant presence at the Frozen Four. But Bob Motzko's Gophers went from No. 1 region seed to a spot on the sidelines.
Minnesota State’s Cade Borchardt, left, and Nathan Smith battled with the Gophers Mike Koster for the puck during the West Regional final.

Not all was lost: Minnesota makes big impression on NCAA hockey

Here's a look at the impact of each of the five teams from Minnesota in the NCAA men's hockey tournament, which will feature three state teams in the Frozen Four.
Minnesota State Mankato players surrounded goaltender Dryden McKay as time ran out in the Mavericks’ 4-0 victory over the Gophers for the NCAA West

MSU Mankato gives Gophers dose of own medicine, wins region title

The Mavericks played the Gophers' kind of game — grabbing an early lead and controlling the puck — to earn the program's first trip to the Frozen Four.
Minnesota State Mankato hockey coach Mike Hastings: “Finally, we get a win and find a way to win a regional and get to the Frozen Four. “For all t

Hastings, Minnesota State Mankato finally reach Frozen Four

Shutout of Gophers comes a day after Mavericks finally get first NCAA victory.
Minnesota Duluth players consoled North Dakota goalie Adam Scheel after the Bulldogs won 3-2 in five overtimes Saturday night.

UMD shows 'winning pedigree' with record-setting five-overtime victory

The Bulldogs advanced to their fourth consecutive Frozen Four when a little-used freshman scored in the longest game in NCAA tournament history.
Mike Hastings and Minnesota State, shown in 2019, will try to reach their first Frozen Four when they play the Gophers in the West Regional final on S

Frozen Four berth at stake as close friends Motzko, Hastings face off

Bob Motzko's Gophers and Mike Hastings' Minnesota State Mankato team meet in the NCAA West Regional final on Sunday night in Loveland, Colo.
Gophers forward Mason Nevers, right, celebrates his goal with Jack Perbix during the first period against Nebraska Omaha on Saturday night in Loveland

Gophers roll into regional final with 7-2 rout of Nebraska Omaha

The Gophers face MSU Mankato for a Frozen Four berth on Sunday.
Minnesota State Mankato’s Ryan Sandelin, back, celebrated his overtime goal with Brendan Furry on Saturday after the Mavericks came from behind to b

MSU Mankato rallies from two goals down, beats Quinnipiac in OT

The Mavericks earned their first NCAA tournament victory in dramatic fashion.
Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine made a save against Nebraska Omaha’s Taylor Ward on Saturday night.

Gophers-MSU Mankato regional final preview

One of these two Minnesota schools will be in the Frozen Four.
Gophers seniors Scott Reedy, center, and Brannon McManus (7) will try to help the team take a step toward the Frozen Four.

All five Minnesota men's teams in action Saturday in NCAA tournament

It begins Saturday with St. Cloud State playing at noon and ends with the Gophers starting at 9 p.m. In between, Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth are playing for Frozen Four berths.
high goals Gophers coach Bob Motzko said his team earned its spot in the NCAA tournament and knows that anything can happen now. His teams have lost a

Motzko wants to join list of U coaches who have captured NCAA hockey titles

When Bob Motzko was introduced as Gophers men's hockey coach three years ago, he didn't shy away from the expectations that go hand-in-hand with the job.
Nebraska Omaha forward Chayse Primeau.

NCAA West Regional preview: Gophers vs. Nebraska Omaha

The Gophers, the lone remaining Big Ten team in the field, face a battle-tested Mavericks team.
Michigan played the Gophers in Minneapolis on March 6.

UMD wins on forfeit after COVID forces Michigan from NCAA hockey

The Wolverines, like Notre Dame and St. Lawrence, bowed out of the tournament because of COVID-19 issues.
Minnesota State Mankato forward Chris Van Os-Shaw, right, battled with Bemidji State defenseman Tyler Jubenvill during a game in December in Mankato.

Minnesota State Mankato seeking a long-awaited NCAA hockey breakthrough

The Mavericks have won more games than any other Division I men's program over the past four years, but they are still looking for an NCAA tournament victory.
The Rockies in the background from Loveland, Colo.

Updates from Colorado: Gophers, Mankato prepare for NCAA hockey region

The games start Saturday in Colorado, and we'll provide the latest from the West and other NCAA tournament developments.
Gophers forward Sammy Walker is one of the star hockey players in the NCAA tournament from the state of Minnesota.

How many Minnesotans in NCAA hockey? Way more than anywhere else

Players from the state comprise about 26% of the 16 tournament teams, and their presence will be felt in all four regions. Play begins today.
Riese, left, and Will Zmolek got together when Minnesota State Mankato played at Bemidji State earlier this season.

Zmolek brothers aim to make mark in NCAA tournament

Riese, a senior captain for Minnesota State Mankato, and Will, a sophomore for Bemidji State, are in the hockey tournament together for the first time, a thrill for their father, Doug, a former Gophers standout.
Notre Dame won’t get to play in the NCAA tournament because of COVID-19 issues.

COVID-19 issues force Notre Dame out of NCAA hockey tournament

The Fighting Irish were in the tournament as a replacement for another school, St. Lawrence, that also had to bow out because of a coronavirus outbreak.
Ducks defenseman Josh Manson (42) got a piece Wild left wing Kevin Fiala (22) while attempting to check him in the third period, leaving the loose puc

With big line stifled, Wild looks for scoring support elsewhere

Nick Bjugstad and Ryan Suter chipped in during Monday's victory. which was needed because the Wild's top line has been shut down recently.
Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin (25) shadowed Ducks left winger Max Jones (49) as he tried to center the puck from behind the Wild net Monday.

Four Ducks added to NHL's COVID protocol as rematch with Wild approaches

Today's 4:30 p.m. game is still on, but Anaheim canceled Tuesday's planned practice. Teams undergo COVID-19 testing on the morning of a game
Gophers players, including captain Sammy Walker, left, celebrated a goal against Arizona State in January.

Starting times changed: Gophers, Mankato pushed back one hour

In the West Regional in Loveland, Colo. on Saturday, Minnesota will play Nebraska Omaha at 9 p.m. and MSU Mankato will now play at 4 p.m.
Gophers players mobbed Ryan Johnson after the defenseman scored his first career goal earlier this season.

State of hockey: Thriving. Gophers, all 4 other Minnesota schools in NCAA field

It's the first time all five Minnesota men's hockey programs have qualified for the tournament. The Gophers play Omaha in the first round of the 16-team tournament.
Nick Bjugstad delivered one of the Wild’s few good licks Thursday vs. Colorado, upending Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves.

Wild tries to work two bad Colorado losses out of system

The Wild went through a brisk practice in preparation for the start of a three-game homestand.
Collin Adams, left, and North Dakota are safely in the NCAA tournament field, while goalie Isiah Saville and Nebraska Omaha await word.

Final Bracketology: Projecting the NCAA men's hockey field before Sunday night's announcement

This year, projecting the field becomes a lot more of an inexact science because the selection committee's subjective opinions on teams will decide the 10 at-large teams. Here's a stab at what might happen.
Wisconsin’s Grace Bowlby of Edina scored against Minnesota Duluth during the 2019-20 season.

Edina's Bowlby, Gophers' Zumwinkle and UMD duo among All-America selections

Grace Bowlby, a defender for Wisconsin, earned first-team honors.
Minnesota Duluth goalie Emma Soderberg turned aside a shot for one of her 44 save against Northeastern in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals.

Even in defeat, UMD women showed they belong among hockey's elite

The Bulldogs lost 3-2 late in overtime to top-ranked Northeastern in a thrilling national semifinal, a sign that the program is back among the elite.
Alex Korman • Star Tribune Coach Maura Crowell returned UMD to the Women’s Frozen Four.

Minnesota Duluth loses overtime heartbreaker in Women's Frozen Four

Top-seeded Northeastern overcame a 2-0 deficit and defeated the Bulldogs 3-2 in overtime.
Gophers forward Grace Zumwinkle had 17 goals and seven assists this season.

U's Zumwinkle among three finalists for top women's hockey honor

The senior who went to Breck School is up for the Patty Kazmaier Award along with players from Wisconsin and Northeastern.
Carson Soucy fought with Arizona’s Lawson Crouse after Soucy came out of the penalty box following his major penalty on Tuesday night.

Soucy draws one-game suspension for hit on Coyotes player

Defenseman Carson Soucy received a five-minute major for a high hit on Arizona's Conor Garland on Tuesday night.
Wild draft pick Matt Boldy and Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine are among 10 Hobey Baker finalists.

Gophers goalie, top Wild draft pick among 10 Hobey Baker finalists

Goalie Jack LaFontaine of the Gophers and forward Matt Boldy of Boston College, the Wild's top 2019 draft pick, are among four finalists who have Minnesota ties.
Gable Steveson is 12-0 this season and none of the matches have been close.

Gophers' Steveson determined to dominate the field at NCAAs

The Apple Valley junior is seen as the clear favorite at heavyweight, with the NCAA championships opening Thursday.
Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine made 46 saves and got plenty of help from teammates in the 6-4 win over Wisconsin.

Three takeaways from Minnesota's Big Ten hockey championship

Standout performances by Blake McLaughlin and Jack LaFontaine helped Minnesota beat Wisconsin 6-4. A look at what happened and what's ahead for the Gophers.
Gophers forward Blake McLaughlin controlled the puck as Wisconsin’s Tyler Inamoto (5) defended during the championship game of the Big Ten men’s h

Champions: U beats Badgers for Big Ten title, makes case for No. 1 NCAA seed

The Gophers led held 5-1 after two periods and then held off a Wisconsin rally, holding off a Wisconsin comeback and winning 6-4. The NCAA men's hockey tournament field will be announced Sunday.
Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine owns a nation’s-best 20 victories this season.

Gophers' Jack LaFontaine named Big Ten Goaltender of the Year

Joining LaFontaine on the All-Big Ten first team were teammates Sampo Ranta and Jackson LaCombe. Minnesota plays Wisconsin tonight for the Big Ten tournament title.
Gophers players swarmed Sammy Walker in the corner after the team captain scored in overtime to beat Michigan 4-3 on Monday night in South Bend, Ind.

U beats Michigan, reaches Big Ten final with more overtime drama

For the second game in a row, the Gophers were held scoreless until the third period before rallying to win. They play Wisconsin tonight for the title.
Gophers men’s hockey players mobbed one another after winning in overtime vs. Michigan State on Sunday in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

U needs OT to put away Spartans, avoid Big Ten playoff shocker

Minnesota averted a huge upset against 7-18-2 Michigan State and moved into tonight's semifinal against Michigan.
Matt Boldy, a Wild first-round draft pick, has helped Boston College grab the nation’s No. 1 ranking.

Hockey Bracketology: Last call for men's teams to state their NCAA case

Conference tournaments are in full swing this week, and Sunday night the 16-team field for the national tournament will be announced.
Maura Crowell and Minnesota Duluth take an 11-6 record into the NCAA quarterfinals.

UMD women savoring NCAA tourney chance; watch here at 6 p.m.

The fifth-seeded Bulldogs, who finished the regular season with a surge, face No. 4 seed Colgate on Monday night in a quarterfinal in Erie, Pa. We have the link to the live video.
Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov high-fived Ryan Suter after one of Kaprizov’s three third-period goals Friday night.

Kaprizov creating a buzz around pro hockey that can't be ignored

Playing in his 25th NHL game, Kirill Kaprizov added to a growing list of jaw-dropping moments by breaking open Friday's scoreless game with a third-period hat trick.
Among the Gophers’ 20 wins this season was a 5-1 home victory over Michigan State, celebrated by Ben Meyers and Mike Koster.

Gophers men's hockey team hits the road for postseason — comfortably

Entering the postseason, the Gophers are 9-1 away from home.
Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay has posted eight shutouts this season.

Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay named WCHA Player of the Year

The junior set a conference record with a 1.07 goals-against average in league play.
North Dakota’s Shane Pinto has 15 goals and 13 assists in 23 games this season.

North Dakota, Minnesota State Mankato dominate NCHC, WCHA awards

Fighting Hawks forward Shane Pinto led UND's NCHC haul, while the Mavericks picked up four WCHA honors.
Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine made a save against Michigan on Saturday in the regular-season finale.

Big Ten hockey award finalists include trio of Gophers

Goalie Jack LaFontaine and defenseman Brock Faber each are up for two awards, and Bob Motzko has a chance to repeat as Coach of the Year.
Wild defenseman Ian Cole and goalie Kaapo Kahkonen after Monday’s 2-0 victory over Vegas at Xcel Energy Center.

NHL's unusual schedule makes regular season feel like nonstop playoffs

In this shortened and compressed season, teams are for the most part playing series instead of single games, including four Wild-Vegas battles in 10 days.
Gophers forward Jack Perbix brought the puck down the ice in the first period Saturday.

Gophers hockey beats Michigan 4-2 but Big Ten title slips away

Before the puck dropped Saturday afternoon, the Gophers already knew they were destined for second place behind Wisconsin.
Michigan forward Kent Johnson celebrated a goal by Nick Granowicz during the third period.

Gophers hockey falls 5-2 to Michigan and out of first place

The third-ranked Gophers no longer can claim the Big Ten title on their own. By falling to the No. 7 Wolverines, Minnesota ceded control of the Big Ten race to Wisconsin.
Goalie Adam Scheel and North Dakota keep rolling along.

Our hockey bracketology: Four Minnesota teams in mix with UND as top seed

The men's conference tournaments will help determine whose bubbles will burst, while the teams at the top are solidifying their positions.