Penticton (British Columbia) Vees second-year defenseman Derik Johnson of Phoenix, son of former Minnesota Duluth and NHL defenseman Jim Johnson, has made an oral commitment to UMD for 2011-12.
"I’ve always had a connection to Minnesota and my dream has been to go to school at UMD and wear their hockey sweater," Derik Johnson said Thursday. "UMD’s coaches have been in contact with me the last couple of years, I made an unofficial visit there two summers ago, and the interest was mutual. Things have worked out perfectly."
Penticton coach Fred Harbinson, a former Wisconsin-Superior All-American winger, says Johnson, an assistant captain, is a valuable defenseman.
"He’s a heart-and-soul kind of player who we put out against the top line of opposing teams," said Harbinson. "He blocks shots, kills penalties, plays with an edge and is a physical player."
Before coming to Penticton, Johnson, a 2008 high school graduate, played on PF Chang’s Major AAA midget team in Phoenix, coached by his dad. Derik Johnson has a goal and eight assists in 32 games this season.
Jim Johnson, an associate coach with Norfolk in the American Hockey League, played 174 games at UMD from 1981-85, and then played 829 games in the NHL through 1998.
Derik Johnson, 19, is 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. Penticton is second in the Interior Division of the British Columbia Hockey League at 26-5. UMD’s staff watched Penticton last weekend against division-leading Vernon.
Johnson had made a recruiting visit to Western Michigan and was in contact with a number of other Division I schools including Nebraska-Omaha and Quinnipiac.