Kenny Johnson Displays Patience On and Off the Ice

Story posted December 9, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Christopher Hess

The proverb “patience is a virtue” means that if you are able to withstand a wait longer than others, you will be rewarded in the long run.

Kenny Johnson has embodied that mantra since he stepped onto campus for the 2019-2020 season.

Johnson, now a third-year defenseman, has cemented himself into a role on the third defensive pairing with first-year player Simon Mack.

Johnson has embraced that extended waiting time after skating in just seven games through two seasons and looks forward to each opportunity to play meaningful minutes.

“I've been looking forward to it. I think from the moment I got that first shot this year of being in the lineup this year, I was excited,” Johnson said.

It wasn’t just in the collegiate ranks where the six-foot-four defenseman waited for his opportunity, it was in juniors as well.

As a 23-year-old junior, Johnson made the jump from the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL to Penn State at 21-years-old and was one of the older players to join his freshman class.

But even at his age, Johnson was patient and made that jump when he felt he was ready enough.

“I don't think there's a real rush per age like some guys are ready to 18 some are ready at 21,” Johnson said. “We have guys that are older on our team now and they're playing great. So age is not a factor.”

In that mindset of coming of age, Kenny’s brother Jack, who currently plays for the Colorado Avalanche and was the No. 3 overall pick from Michigan in the 2005 NHL Draft, has played a big role in his development as a player.

Additionally, Kenny’s father, also named Jack and a former Wisconsin hockey player, led the way for Kenny’s development over time.

“We're brothers. So I've got the same mannerisms and we think alike on the ice,” Johnson said. “He's taught me, my father taught both of us and I was lucky enough to have both of them as coaches.”

It’s hard to miss Johnson on the ice wearing his No. 15 sweater standing at six-foot-four inches tall and weighing in at 230 pounds as he throws his body against the boards to knock opposing players off the puck.

Penn State’s philosophy of getting pucks on net is something that Guy Gadowsky has preached since becoming the head coach and Johnson feels that his defensive game caters to his ability of getting a play started.

He has registered just one assist this season and said that he is working on his offensive game, but the patience and willingness to stick his nose in the play pays dividends.

“My role as a defensemen is to not let the opposing team score,” Johnson said. “It's definitely been easier as we play a very offensive game to have it rub off on me and try and join the rush.”

Good things come to those who wait, and Kenny Johnson’s patience has led to an opportunity to make a name for himself in perhaps the toughest collegiate hockey conference in the nation.

Every game, every shift, every time I touch the puck, I get more confident,” Johnson said. “I just seem to be feeling better on the ice and feel like I can make more of an impact.”

Christopher Hess is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email