In 1995, Steve Johnson was asked to take over a new junior hockey team, the Fargo-Moorhead Bears of the United States Hockey League. He led the Bears to a third-place finish that season.
The following year, Johnson took over another new team, the Lincoln Stars in the USHL. Johnson led the Stars to the Clark Cup as USHL champions in that inaugural season.
Just over a decade later, Johnson led the USHL's Fargo Force in their second year of existence. He brought the Force within a game of the Clark Cup.
With Johnson's history of launching junior hockey teams into quick success, the University of Minnesota Crookston made a splash by hiring the former UND hockey star and longtime coach to start its new American College Hockey Association Division II team.
Minnesota Crookston announced Friday morning that it is bringing men's hockey back to campus in club form. The Golden Eagles will play in the ACHA Division II Central Regional and begin play next season with Johnson at the helm.
It will be the first time the Golden Eagles have had men's hockey on campus since 2009, when they cut their NCAA Division-III team. The school said it considered going the ACHA Division-I route at the time, but it didn't.
At the NCAA Division-III level, the Golden Eagles frequently loaded up on local players under longtime coach Gary Warren.
Johnson, 53, last coached at the college level in 2012-13 for Omaha. He has been in Grand Forks since then, working with youth hockey in the city.
According to a report by KROX-AM, the local radio station, Minnesota Crookston hosted officials from the ACHA on campus over the summer.
When Minnesota Crookston posted a job opening for a head men's hockey coach in August, it listed the salary as $50,000.
Johnson played prep hockey at Grand Forks Central before joining UND's team. At UND, he played on one of the program's most famous lines of all time -- the Hrkac Circus -- alongside Tony Hrkac and Bob Joyce. They led the program to the 1987 NCAA national title.
Johnson captained UND the following year and racked up 85 points and was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Johnson got his coaching start as a volunteer with UND in 1994.
He then coached the F-M Bears for a year before leading the Lincoln Stars for 10 seasons. He coached the Fargo Force for one year and served as an assistant at both St. Cloud State and Omaha.
Minnesota Crookston's athletic department recently underwent major changes. In December, the Golden Eagles announced they're cutting their football program.