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Former Hermantown hockey player leaving North Dakota for UWS

Practicing with one of the best teams in Division I men's hockey was a positive for Ryan Hill, yet he wanted to play. So after two years at North Dakota, the defenseman from Hermantown says he's transferred to Wisconsin-Superior and will be avail...

Practicing with one of the best teams in Division I men's hockey was a positive for Ryan Hill, yet he wanted to play. So after two years at North Dakota, the defenseman from Hermantown says he's transferred to Wisconsin-Superior and will be available to skate for the Yellowjackets this winter.

Hill, 23, was used in two exhibition games the past two years, against the USA Hockey Under-20 team and Under-18 team. During those seasons the Fighting Sioux went 57-22-8 and advanced to two NCAA tournaments. Four of North Dakota's six regular defensemen in 2010-11 were NHL Entry Draft picks.

"To practice with our team every day stepped up my game and improved my skills," Hill, 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, said this week. "But things just didn't work out for me. From the looks of it, I realized I wasn't going to get as much playing time as I'd like. I needed to look somewhere else."

After serving as a captain for Hermantown's 2006 Minnesota Class A third-place team as a senior, he spent three years in junior hockey -- two in the U.S. Hockey League and one with Trail in the British Columbia Hockey League, playing in 147 games.

After 2010-11, Hill checked on transferring to another Division I school, but that would've required sitting out one season. Transferring to Division III allows him to play right away. He talked with UWS coach Dan Stauber and St. Scholastica's Mark Wick, both of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, before making a choice.

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"I was looking to be closer to home, where my family could watch me play, and coach Stauber had recruited me before," said Hill, whose dad, Randy, played baseball at Minnesota Duluth.

Stauber said Hill would be an excellent addition to any team in the NCHA and said he'll be a great fit for UWS. The Yellowjackets, with one senior defenseman among the top six, went 16-13-1 last season and advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament, losing at home in the first round to Hamline University.

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