Updated: 03/07/2014 1:55 PM
Created: 03/06/2014 9:31 PM KSTP.com
By: Tom Hauser
A couple of years ago the hockey program at St. Paul Johnson High School was on the verge of being shut down. Many seniors on the team were graduating and there were few players coming up in the program to replace them.
Now, that's changed. Head coach Steve "Moose" Younghans got alumni involved and reinvigorated the youth hockey feeder program.
"We're alive and well right now," Younghans said. "We have a lot of young players here."
The team lost in the opening game of the section playoffs this season, but Younghans dreams of a return to the state high school hockey tournament some day.
"Our goal every year is to win more than we lose, beat someone we're not supposed to beat and maybe sometime we'll get lucky and get back one more time," Younghans told KSTP reporter Tom Hauser during a recent practice at Gustafson-Phalen Arena on St. Paul's east side.
St. Paul Johnson has one of the most storied hockey programs in state history.
The school has won four state championships and earned three runner-up finishes in 22 state tournament appearances. It's also a school the produced famous alums like Olympic gold-medal winning coach Herb Brooks, who played on two state championship teams at Johnson. Former Minnesota Governor Wendell Anderson and two of his brothers also played there.
With players like that, Johnson was the only team from the Twin Cities to win state championships in the first 25 years of the tournament, a period dominated by northern Minnesota teams.
Younghans helped organize a 100th anniversary celebration that re-engaged hundreds of alumni. In fact, so many former players wanted to play in alumni games they had to have five of them. Younghans hopes that enthusiasm helps rub off on younger players.
"Every season we start fresh hoping we can some day get back to the tournament," Younghans said. "But the most important thing is to carry on the tradition and make sure when the younger kids are here watching our games they some day will want to be Johnson Governors as well."