2013 Year in Review: Gopher coaches’ careers go back to south Washington County
Last year, longtime pals Brad Frost and Joel Johnson led the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team to a historic season. But not long ago the two friends and coaches were cutting their teeth in south Washington County.
Last winter, the Gophers won their second consecutive national championship, beating Boston University, 6-3, at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis to cap a perfect, unprecedented 41-0 season.
“It was a magical run this year,” said Frost, the Gophers’ head coach, after the championship win. “At the beginning of the year we didn’t set out to go 41-0. We didn’t even think that was possible, honestly.”
No other NCAA women’s college hockey team in history has ever finished unbeaten. Last year’s championship win extended a NCAA-record 49-game winning streak dating back to last season and was the fourth overall national title won by the Gophers women.
Frost said about midway through the season the public began to talk about the unbeaten streak, but it didn’t faze the Gophers.
“For us it was just continuing to focus on the process of the day-to-day and trying to win hockey games,” he said. “Here we are 41 games later with a national championship, all trying to pinch ourselves to make sure it’s real.”
Frost, a Toronto native, has lived in Cottage Grove for the past 10 years. Johnson, the team’s lead assistant, is a 1992 graduate of Woodbury High School, where he was a three sport standout – hockey, soccer and baseball. Frost and Johnson met at Bethel University, where they were roommates and teammates on the Royals hockey team. After college, both men spent time coaching and teaching at New Life Academy in Woodbury.
“It goes back to our freshman year of college,” Johnson said. “With him being from Toronto and me being from Woodbury, he’d come over to my house during some of the breaks from school. We, naturally, got to be good friends.”
Frost said the back-to-back championships were even more special because he was able to share them with Johnson.
“We had a great time as assistants together and we’re having even more fun now,” he said. “It’s pretty incredible when you can spend quality time with a buddy and also have the opportunity to impact the lives of young people that you come in contact with as well.”