Wisconsin introduced Mark Johnson, a former men’s hockey assistant, on May 23 as the new head coach of the women’s team.


Johnson was regarded as one of the prime candidates for the men’s hockey job, which opened when Jeff Sauer retired at the end of last season after two disappointing years. In March, UW athletic director Pat Richter filled that slot with Mike Eaves instead.


But Johnson inherits perhaps a more talented team with the women, who went 22-11-2 last year and were runners up in the WCHA women’s Final Five. The fledgling program, in just its third year as a varsity sport, had been successful under the stewardship of Trina Bourget for a year and a half when the coach suddenly stepped down in midseason, citing medical reasons.


Bourget seemed to have been beginning a women’s hockey legacy, but Johnson’s legacy at UW is nothing new.


Johnson’s father is “Badger” Bob Johnson, who coached Wisconsin from 1966-82 and Mark played for the Badgers from 1977-80 winning a national championship, WCHA rookie of the year, conference MVP and two All-Americas. His 125 goals were a school record and he was the second-leading scorer all-time.


Most notably, he led the 1980 Olympic team to its memorable gold-medal win over Finland, scoring the game-winning goal in the final after putting two past the net in the “Miracle On Ice” classic semifinal against the Soviet Union.


He was an 11-year professional in the NHL before coaching high school and minor league hockey, and served as a Badgers assistant since 1996.