Alaska-Anchorage needed a new direction. To get there, the school has turned to an old name.
John Hill, a former Seawolves captain and assistant coach, was hired Tuesday as the school’s third hockey coach, replacing Dean Talafous, who was reassigned at the end of the 2000-2001 season.
“I am excited and feel very privileged to accept the position of head hockey coach at UAA,” said Hill, who spent the last six seasons as Don Lucia’s right-hand man, first at Colorado College and then at Minnesota.
“This has always been a goal of mine, and I look forward to the challenge of restoring the pride in the Seawolf hockey program.”
The Seawolves finished ninth in the 10-team WCHA last season and posted a 7-24-5 overall record. From Nov. 18 to Feb. 16, they went 0-19-1.
Talafous was reassigned in the Anchorage athletic department on March 23. UAA athletics director Steve Cobb headed a three-person committee charged with hiring a replacement.
The Anchorage Daily News reported the school got at least nine applications, from which the committee named two finalists — Hill and Northern Michigan assistant Dave Shyiak.
“It became apparent during the search process that John has prepared himself for this opportunity through his varied experiences and hard work,” Cobb said, “and we believe he is more than capable of assuming the leadership role of Seawolf hockey.”
Hill is the first former Seawolves player to coach the team. Brush Christiansen coached UAA from the program’s inception in 1979 until 1996, when Talafous took over.
An Anchorage native, Hill played for UAA from 1980 to 1985. He was named the team’s most inspirational player in 1982 and 1984 and was the captain on the 1983-84 team.
He is ranked No. 10 on the school’s goalscoring list, with 60.
Hill was an assistant coach for Christiansen from 1991 to 1995, following a stint as the head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League.
He left Anchorage for Lucia’s staff at Colorado College, and spent four years with Lucia in Colorado Springs, Colo. When Lucia took the top job at Minnesota, Hill followed him.
He’s at the helm for the first time in 10 years, but he said his experience will pay off.
“The WCHA is an outstanding conference, and I look forward to going head to head with the coaches that I have established relationships with over the years,” Hill said.