Topeka RoadRunners rookie forward Bryce Johnson has made a verbal commitment to play hockey for the St. Cloud State University Huskies (WCHA, Div.I) beginning in the fall of 2010.
The Grimes, IA native had played the 2008-09 season for the Dallas Stars Midget Major AAA team and came to a RoadRunners tryout camp. Head Coach / GM Scott Langer knew of Johnson before he arrived. \”Bryce was undrafted and untendered but certainly on our radar. He came ready to work\”, Langer said. \”He was very determined, and he clearly proved he belonged.\”
To say he belonged may understate the contributions Johnson made during the season. The 5\’9\”, 160 lb. center found himself on both the power play and penalty kill units. He provided offense for both units, with 5 goals and 14 assists on the NAHL\’s number one power play, and also popped in 2 goals with 4 assists on the penalty kill, leading the team in short-handed points. Overall, Johnson tallied 19 goals and 35 assists for 54 points, third highest on the team. His 35 assists ranked second on the team. And those were just his regular season numbers.
When the playoffs started is when Bryce exploded on the scoresheet, leading the team with 13 points (5 goals and 8 assists) and also in plus/minus with a plus +10. Though the season ended earlier than anticipated, Johnson is very pleased with his time in Topeka. \”I\’ll miss everything here (in Topeka)\”, he said. \”It\’s been a great experience.\”
The St. Cloud State Huskies play in the WCHA in St. Cloud, MN, about an hour away from the Twin Cities. The campus sits on 100 acres along the Mississippi River. The location played a big part in Johnson\’s decision. \”I\’ve always wanted to play in the WCHA and it\’s in the midwest so it\’s close to home and I wanted to go to a decent sized school. (17,000 students).\” He\’s elected to pursue a major in Business and Finance.
While Johnson is excited to move on to a new chapter in his life and playing career, he is emphatic in wanting the fans in Topeka to know how much their support meant to him and his teammates. \”I just want everyone to know that their support is what makes all of this possible. We talk about it on the bus, in the locker room… it\’s amazing to play for such enthusiastic fans. Easily the best fans in the league!\”
He also credits the scouts and coaching staff for their efforts. \”I learned so much this season from both Smack (coach Langer) and (assistant coach) R.J. (Enga). It\’s a long season, and I know they worked their butts off not just for me but my other teammates as well. There\’s a lot of players out there fighting for a limited number of Division I spots, and the coaches do a great job of promoting us to the next level.\” Johnson then added, \”I\’ll always be grateful for my time as a RoadRunner.\”
Johnson is the sixth RoadRunner on the 2009-10 roster to commit to a Division I college, joining Cole Schneider (University of Connecticut), Kevin Ryan (Niagara University), Erik Higby (Northern Michigan), Tony Thomas (Air Force Academy), and Nickolas Gatt (Alabama-Huntsville).