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Jr. Duck’s coach Johnson represents U.S. in Germany

 

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Not long after his playing career ended in 2008, Craig Johnson got into coaching youth hockey, in part because of his sons’ interest in playing.

Now the Anaheim Jr. Ducks’ director of coaches as well as the head coach of the program’s Bantam AAA1 team, Johnson’s coaching journey took him on another path earlier this month when he served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s Select Team that competed in the Deutschland Cup in Augsburg, Germany, from Nov. 6-8.

He was behind the bench with Rockford IceHogs (American Hockey League) associate coach Mark Osiecki, who coached Team USA at the 2015 World Junior Championship.

The U.S. finished in second place with a 1-1-0-1 record.

“When they asked me, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to go,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who played 10 seasons in the NHL before capping his playing days with four seasons in Europe, is no stranger to representing USA Hockey at international competitions.

He spent the 1993-94 season with the U.S. National Team before lacing them up for Team USA at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games. He also has competed for Team USA at the World Junior Championship (1991) and World Championship (1993, ‘96, ‘99 and ‘03).

“It’s an honor to represent your country as a player, and now to represent it as a coach is quit an honor,” Johnson said.

The Deutschland Cup roster for Team USA is comprised of 21 players who are playing professionally in European elite leagues in Finland, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.

The team had one practice together before playing games on three consecutive days, presenting some challenges for players and coaches.

“We didn’t want to overload them,” Johnson said. “We had to give them structure, but let them play. Our focus was on the power play and the penalty kill, especially with the way they call (penalties) over there.

“We had to let their skills come out.”

– Chris Bayee