Johnson, who was also recently appointed as the head coach of the 2007 U.S. Women's National Team, will be joined behind the bench by Hilary Witt (Hamden, Conn.), head women's ice hockey coach at Yale University, and Erin Whitten Hamlen (Hampton, N.H.), associate head women's ice hockey coach at the University of New Hampshire. The 2006 U.S. Women's Select Team will be named in October.
Johnson will not miss any UW games to take the assignment with USA Hockey. He will depart for Kitchener, Ontario on Sunday, Nov. 5 following the conclusion of Wisconsin's series at Minnesota State and return on Nov. 12 to take part in the full week of preparations for the Nov. 18-19 series at Bemidji State. Wisconsin is off between those two series.
"We are extremely excited to have such an experienced coaching staff to guide Team USA at the upcoming Four Nations Cup," said Michele Amidon (Colorado Springs, Colo.), USA Hockey's director of women's hockey operations. "Mark is a hockey icon who has been a role model and mentor for players and coaches alike. Meanwhile, Hilary has an outstanding knowledge from both the playing and coaching realms and Erin is one of the most successful female goaltenders in the history of international hockey."
Johnson, who is in his fifth year at Wisconsin, led the Badgers to their first NCAA championship in 2005-06. The team compiled a 36-4-1 record, including a 24-3-1 mark in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The 2005-06 American Hockey Coaches Association Women's Division I Coach of the Year, Johnson has compiled a 111-27-10 record over four years at Wisconsin, ranking him tops among active women's coaches in winning percentage (.783).
Johnson's USA Hockey experience includes time both behind the bench and on the ice. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach with the U.S. Men's National Team that competed in the 2002 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. He served in a similar capacity at the 2000 IIHF World Championship and worked as an on-ice assistant coach at the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Orientation Camp in September 2001. Meanwhile, Johnson has represented the United States as a player in 13 international tournaments. Most notably, he helped lead the 1980 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team to a gold medal, scoring two goals in the "Miracle On Ice" game against the Soviet Union.
Witt, who will be making her international USA Hockey coaching debut, is entering her sixth season at Yale, and fifth as head coach. The all-time winningest coach in Yale history, Witt's 2004-05 squad set the school record for overall wins (16) and conference wins (12), and made an appearance in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League semifinals for the first time in history. Further, she was the ECACHL Women's Coach of the Year in 2002-03. In the last two years, Witt expanded her coaching experience to include USA Hockey Player Development Camps, as she coached at the Girls' Select 17/18 and 14 levels.
As a player, Witt spent time with the U.S. Women's National Team during the 2000-01 season and played on the 2000 U.S. Women's Select Team at the Four Nations Cup. She is a 2001 graduate of Northeastern University and a member of the Huskies' Hall of Fame, having completed her four-year career in 2000. After leading the team in scoring in three of her four seasons, Witt finished her career as Northeastern's all-time leader in goals and points (113-94*207). In addition, she was a three-time finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey.
Whitten Hamlen, who is also coaching at the international level for the first time, is entering her seventh year with the UNH women's ice hockey program. After six seasons as an assistant coach, she was recently promoted to the position of associate head coach. A standout goaltender at UNH from 1989-93, she ranked second on the program's career victory list with 51 and held the records for saves in a game (46), season (511) and career (1,556) at the time of her graduation. In her four seasons at New Hampshire, the Wildcats won the ECACHL championship twice and were the runner-up twice.
The 1994 USA Hockey Women's Player of the Year, Whitten Hamlen was part of the U.S. women's national program from 1992-97 and competed for the United States in multiple international competitions, including four IIHF Women's World Championships. She rejoined the U.S. team in 1999 for the World Championship and again in 2001 for the Four Nations Cup. In 2005, she switched to the coaching side of USA Hockey, as she worked primarily with the goaltenders at the 2005 Girls' Select 15/16 Player Development Camp.
NOTES: Mark Johnson, Hilary Witt and Erin Whitten Hamlen have all played on a U.S. National Ice Hockey Team ... Johnson is a USA Hockey Level 4 certified coach ... The 2006 U.S. Women's Select Team will be named in October ... Team USA will open play at the Four Nations Cup on Tues., Nov. 7, taking on Canada at 7:30 p.m. EST at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex ... The United States has earned either the gold or silver medal in each of the nine years it has competed in the Four Nations Cup (Three Nations Cup from 1996-99), including back-to-back silver medals in 2004 and 2005.