Mark Johnson, a former Wisconsin men’s assistant coach, was named the head coach of the Badgers’ women’s team Thursday.
Johnson, the son of legendary coach “Badger” Bob Johnson, replaces Trina Bourget, who resigned in March. Bourget had been on medical leave for an undisclosed illness since Jan. 2, leaving the coaching to assistants Tracey Cornell and Dan Koch.
Johnson was a finalist for the Badgers’ men’s head coaching job, having been an assistant under former coach Jeff Sauer since 1996. Wisconsin, however, selected Mike Eaves, the school’s most prolific scorer, as its men’s coach, and Johnson, who is second on the all-time scoring list, was not retained as an assistant.
He then applied for the women’s coaching job, and was selected over three other finalists: Melody Davidson, a Canadian women’s national team assistant coach; Katey Stone, the Harvard head coach; and Margaret Murphy, the Brown head coach.
Johnson, 44, will be the Wisconsin women’s program’s third coach when it starts its fourth year in October. Julie Sasner was the coach for the inaugural season of 1999-2000 before leaving to become an assistant on the U.S. women’s national team.
The Badgers were 22-11-2 last season, beating eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA semifinals before losing to Minnesota 3-2 in the league championship game.
A sports legend in Madison, Johnson played for Madison Memorial High School before going to Wisconsin. There, he scored 256 points in three seasons — his fourth year was spent with the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, which he helped lead to a gold medal.
He played in the NHL for 11 seasons and in Europe for two more before turning to coaching. An assistant coaching stint at Madison Memorial preceded his first head coaching job, at Verona (Wis.) High School in the 1994-95 season. He then coached the Madison Monsters of the Colonial Hockey League in 1995-96 before joining Sauer’s staff.