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Lumberjacks excited to have veteran staff entering '20-'21

By Scott Bradford, 07/24/20, 11:00AM EDT

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MUSKEGON, MI- Going into the 2020-2021 season, the Muskegon Lumberjacks will boast a veteran hockey staff that has the entire organization excited.

In total, Muskegon’s staff has 53 years of experience with the organization, and 75 years of combined USHL experience.

“Our owners have allowed us to build such an incredible staff,” said Head Coach Mike Hamilton. “Despite these troubled times, we have made considerable additions. In times like these, very few teams are able to go out and add coaches like Cody Chupp and James Ryan, but Dan Israel and Bob Kaiser have opened the checkbook for us, showing their unwavering dedication to this team and their desire to bring a Clark Cup to Muskegon.”

Hamilton will lead the Lumberjacks in 2020-2021, his third season as the Jacks’ head coach. Overall, it’s his fourth year with the team; three as head coach and one as video coach.

While the leadership may be relatively new to Muskegon, Steve Lowe and Jim McGroarty have a wealth of USHL pedigree. Lowe, the Jacks’ second-year President of Hockey Operations, has been in the league since 2008, directing hockey operations for both Chicago and Tri-City. Lowe won a Clark Cup with Tri-City in 2016, and added an Anderson Cup to his resume in 2018-2019.

“I am excited about the growth of the program on the hockey operations side,” said Lowe. “This will allow us to focus on the development of our players and coaches. We are excited about the upcoming year, and the work has just begun.” 

McGroarty also has an extensive USHL resume- he will begin his 13th year in the league in 2020-2021. Most of those years were spent in the Western Conference with Omaha and Lincoln, spending four years as the Stars’ bench boss. 

Assistant Coach Josh Nelson has been coaching the Jacks’ defensemen for the past three years, and is excited about the upcoming season. He feels that the “new” leadership has been outstanding so far.

“They’ve been great, as each brings a wealth of knowledge from different aspects and experiences in their hockey careers,” said Nelson. I think we’ve got a great thing going in Muskegon with a number of elite hockey minds coming together to build something special in Muskegon that will build a strong foundation for years to come.”

New hire Cody Chupp will coach in his seventh USHL campaign at just 35 years of age. Chupp will be an assistant coach in Muskegon, but was Lincoln’s head coach for the past three years, and also was the team’s GM during the 2019-2020 season.

Goaltending Coach Dave DeSander has worked wonders in Muskegon during his four seasons, working with largely-overlooked prospects and turning them into outstanding players. Brandon Bussi was an undrafted free agent who was cut by Sioux City just prior to the ‘18-’19 season. Under DeSander’s tutelage, Bussi won a team-record 33 games in Muskegon that year.

“We’ve built an outstanding staff,” said Hamilton. “We’ve filled our locker room with great players and a great staff and I’m looking forward to getting to work.”

 

Here is the complete list of the Jacks’ hockey staff, including the number of years they’ve been in Muskegon:

President of Hockey Operations- Steve Lowe (2nd season)

General Manager- Jim McGroarty (2nd season) 

Head Coach- Mike Hamilton (3rd season as HC, 4th overall)

Assistant Coach- Josh Nelson (4th season)  

Assistant Coach- Cody Chupp (1st season)

Video/Development Coach- James Ryan (1st season) 

Goaltending Coach- Dave DeSander (5th season)

Strength Coach- Jeremy Tormala (2nd season)

Athletic Trainer- Ian Wood (8th Season)

Equipment Manager- Patrick Dooley (5th season)

Broadcaster/Media Relations- Scott Bradford (5th season)

Team Assistant- Robbie Yaunke (10th season)

Billet Coordinator/Academic Advisor- Shannan Conrad (6th season)

Billet Coordinator/Academic Advisor- Stacy Johnson (6th season)