Hiller joins Red Wings

MARQUETTE – A member of the 1991 national championship hockey team from Northern Michigan University has been named an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings.

Jim Hiller, 45, along with Andrew Brewer, will join head coach Mike Babcock’s staff, the NHL team announced Wednesday morning, joining Tony Granato on the Detroit bench.

Hiller played for the Wildcats for three seasons from 1989-92, including in the March 30, 1991, NCAA Division I title game played at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minn. NMU defeated Boston University, 8-7 in triple overtime, for its only national title in the sport.

It culminated a season when Northern didn’t lose a game from Christmas on, going 24-0-2 in that span under former head coach Rick Comley and then-assistant and now NMU head coach Walt Kyle, according to records on NMU’s website, www.nmu.edu.

Hiller was instrumental in one of the most successful eras in Northern hockey, scoring 76 goals and 129 assists for 205 points over three seasons.

In the championship 1990-91 season, which also included the McNaughton Cup as WCHA champions and Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA playoff winners, his totals were 22-41-63 with eight power-play goals.

In his final season, 1991-92, Hiller was one of the team captains and helped the Wildcats again make the NCAA tournament. He earned All-WCHA Second Team and All-American Second Team honors with scoring totals of 31-55-86 and 14 ppg.

The assists, points, power play goals, six game-winning goals and 47 penalties all led the ’91-’92 team, while his 33-assist total in 1989-90 was also tops for the school.

He followed that up with a pro career that included 63 NHL games with the Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers from 1992-94, totaling 8-12-20 with 116 penalty minutes.

More recently, Hiller has spent the past 11 seasons coaching in the Western and British Columbia hockey leagues.

From 2009 until the end of this past season, he was head coach of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, where he compiled a 210-124-11-15 record, leading the team to four playoff berths, two U.S. Division titles and an appearance in the WHL Finals in 2010.

He was also named WHL Coach of the Year for the 2011-12 season, earning the same award during an earlier season in the BCHL.

The Cranbrook, British Columbia, native was head coach in that Canadian league with the Chilliwack Bruins from 2006-09 and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in 2005-06, a season he went 43-12-2.

From 2002-04, Hiller was an assistant coach with the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.

Brewer has spent the past three years with Hockey Canada as video coach for a number of international events, including Babcock’s gold-medal-winning Canadian team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, according to the Wings’ news release.

He also has experience as an assistant coach at the University of New Brunswick when the team won Canadian national championships in 2009 and 2011.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.