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Lancers Alum Makes NHL Debut

04/14/2014, 8:00am CDT
By bwerger

12 years after season in USHL, Johnson makes it to the NHL

It has been a long road for Justin Johnson to make it to the NHL, but he finally got his shot on Friday making his debut for the New York Islanders.

The 32-year-old was called up to the Islanders on Wednesday and then inserted into the lineup on Friday against the New Jersey Devils.  He logged 7:15 minutes of ice time and dished out three hits while playing on the fourth line in the 3-2 shootout victory for the Islaners.

Johnson spent the 2001-02 season in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers and recorded 15 points (7g, 8a) and 36 assists in 46 regular season games.  He helped the Lancers capture the Anderson Cup as regular season championships.  He added three points (2g, 1a) in 10 playoff games as Omaha advanced to the Clark Cup Final series.

He would played collegiate hockey in his hometown at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and totaled 35 points (13g, 22a) over 143 games at the school. 

Johnson then began his professional hockey career by spending four seasons in the ECHL before moving up to the AHL for the last four seasons.  He was playing for the Islanders AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, at the time of his call-up and had produced five points (1g, 4a) while racking up 183 penalty minutes in 48 games.  He was among AHL leaders in penalty minutes.

Johnson would be in the lineup again on Sunday for the Islanders season finale.  He again made his presence known by dishing out three more hits over just 5:43 of ice time and had a memorable moment when he got into a fight with Buffalo Sabres tough guy John Scott early in the contest.

Notes: Three other USHL alum joined Johnson in the Islanders lineup during his NHL debut - Anders Lee (Green Bay Gamblers, 2009-10), Matt Donovan (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, 2007-09), and Scott Mayfield (Youngstown Phantoms, 2009-11).  Three more USHL alumni were in the lineup for the New Jersey Devils - Ryan Carter (Green Bay Gamblers, 2002-04), Jon Merrill (Team USA, 2009-10), and Mike Sislo (Green Bay Gamblers, 2005-07).

Video - Justin Johnson fight in second NHL game

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 12th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2013-14.  A record 32 players were chosen in the 2013 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season have committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.  For more information, visit us on the web at or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (, twitter (, and YouTube (  Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (

It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.

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