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A chat with UND freshman defenseman Brent Johnson

The blue liner from Texas has become a consistent presence in the lineup during the second half of the season.

NCAA Ice Hockey 2021: Niagara University v North Dakota OCT 09
UND defenseman Brent Johnson skates the puck up the ice in a game earlier this season against Niagara.
Russell Hons / UND athletics

OMAHA, Neb. — UND rookie defenseman Brent Johnson was in-and-out of the lineup in the first half, but as injuries mounted, he's been thrust into a big role down the stretch. Johnson has helped the Fighting Hawks charge into first place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. He spoke to the Herald this week.

Q. When you weren’t playing much in the first half of the season, what things were you working on to get ready for your opportunity?

A. I think the biggest thing for me was my overall defense. I worked a lot with Karl (Goehring, assistant coach) in video over practice and I was working with him every day, picking his brain. Every day in practice, I’d focus on those little things.

Q. Were you going over video of games or practices?

A. A lot of video of practices — drills and reps I was getting.


Q. Are you able to work out and lift weights during the season to build strength or is that pretty tough?

A. It is tough, but every guy on the team still lifts just about every morning. It’s an easy way to maintain muscle mass, which is really easy to lose during the season with our schedule. So, Mark (Poolman, athletic trainer) has us in the weight room every day getting in a light lift.

Q. What has changed the most for you between January and now?

A. I just think my confidence has grown a lot. I feel way more comfortable than I did back in January. It’s been a lot of fun progressing and I’m excited to keep moving forward.

Q. What has it been like to play in these big games down the stretch — and play a big role?

A. It’s exciting. It’s a lot of fun. I’m starting to learn how to win hockey games and what kind of atmosphere we preach at North Dakota. It’s fun having a bigger role and being able to contribute and help the team win.

Q. What has the college experience been like for you?

A. Overall, it’s been really fun. The first half was a struggle — mentally and physically. As I’ve progressed, it’s been some of the most fun I’ve ever had, making memories with my teammates. It’s been a great experience.


Q. What’s your favorite part of Grand Forks?

A. Friday and Saturday nights at The Ralph. Nothing really beats that.

Q. What has been your favorite road trip so far?

A. The Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Nashville was pretty cool.

Q. What’s your favorite restaurant in Grand Forks?

A. I’d probably have to go with Fuji.

Q. What’s one restaurant Grand Forks needs to get?

A. Chipotle.


Q. What is your favorite type of music?

A. Country.

Q. Who is your favorite musical artist?

A. Eric Church.

Q. What’s your favorite movie?

A. I’ve got to go with Miracle. I feel like that’s every hockey player’s favorite.

Q. Who is your favorite actor or actress?

A. Margot Robbie.


Q. If you could pick one destination for a vacation, where would you go?

A. Italy.

Q. Have you ever been overseas?

A. No, never.

Q. If you could have dinner with any three people – they can be living, dead, fictional characters – who would you choose?

A. Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

NCAA Men's Hockey 2021: Minnesota Duluth vs North Dakota NOV 19
UND freshman defenseman Brent Johnson takes the ice for warmups before a game against Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 19, 2021.
Russell Hons / UND athletics

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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