NEGAUNEE - As a former Lake Superior State University hockey defenseman (2004-06), Eric Hill is well-versed in that aspect of the sport.
But the new Negaunee High School head coach doesn't want his Miners necessarily playing a defense-first and offense-second style.
"Defense is important, but I also understand scoring goals is part of the game," Hill said Monday. "I like defense, but at the same time, I want the kids to have fun, be creative and score goals. I won't handcuff them."
Hill, 28, replaces Fred Dick, who stepped down from the post after three seasons. Last year, the Miners went 2-23 overall.
"I learned a lot from Fred (as a volunteer Negaunee assistant coach)," Hill said. "I learned how to interact with the players, and the finer details and points of the game you need to know.
"Fred has a good eye for the game."
Hill was promoted to the Negaunee head job for several reasons, according to new NHS athletic director Andrew Brunette.
"He was one of our coaches last year, so he got to know the kids," Brunette said. "He's also a (government and English) teacher at Westwood High School and knows the kids there. That's important, because we're a cooperative program with Westwood.
"He also has had college playing experience and coached hockey at Merrill, (Wis.)
"We just thought he'd be a very good (coaching) candidate," Brunette added.
Hill said he was an assistant coach at Merrill in 2007-08 and its head coach from 2008-09. That squad went 5-16.
The Sands resident, who graduated from Sault Ste. Marie High School in 2001 and LSSU in 2006, said he's looking forward to taking over the Miners.
"We have a lot to build on from the last couple of seasons," Hill said. "We were young last year and have a lot of guys returning.
"Our challenge is numbers (of players)."
Married to Shalyn, Hill is currently working on a new house and training for the Copperman Triathlon Aug. 6 in Copper Harbor.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251