SUPERIOR, WI- In just his first 13 games as a member of the UWS men's hockey team, Dylan Johnson is showing why he's not your average freshman.
Johnson has tallied at least one point in nine of thirteen games.
But when he's on the ice, he tries not to overcomplicate things.
"Just focusing on the game itself, doing all the little things, doing the right things, blocking shots and the puck justs find a way to me. Either put it in the back of the net or get it to someone else and they do it," said Johnson.
Johnson has been a mainstay in the Northland as he played for Cloquet-Esko-Carlton from 2013-2017 and also had two stints with the Minnesota Wilderness.
That's where he caught the attention of UW-Superior Head Coach Rich McKenna.
"That organization did a great job with him in development as well. We're just reaping the benefits of his hard work and that's a big point of why we recruited him. His compete level and his work ethic stands above any points that he produces for us," said McKenna.
Johnson says he has fond memories of his time with the Wilderness and credits the team for preparing him for his next step.
"The physicality for sure, you know the NAHL is a pretty gritty league. The WIAC is a very physical league. Eau Claire has some pretty big guys, Stevens Point has some big guys. I'd say it's really helped me create space and find the open man," added Johnson.
The Yellowjackets are overall a very young squad, totaling 20 freshman and sophomores. Which can be a bit of a learning curve. But the philosophy installed by Coach Mckenna and his staff has his players all in.
"Guys have kind of been groomed by the upperclassmen. They know what it's like to win a bit. Going back to last year, how much fun that was and then how we started. The biggest thing in our culture is we count everybody as leaders," said McKenna.
And McKenna will be counting on Johnson as one of his leaders for the years to come.
"I think Dylan has the skill, the work ethic, the determination, all of those characteristics to be a big-time player here at UWS," added McKenna.
UWS has had over 40 All-Americans that have come through the program and McKenna says if Johnson keeps grinding, he wouldn't be surprised to see him achieve that status.
"Do I think he can do it? Yeah. Take some bounces and all that, absolutely. But he has the work ethic, those characteristics to do that. So it should be fun to see his development over the next few years," said McKenna.
UW-Superior will host St. John's on Friday. Puck drop is at 7:05 PM.