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New Faces Join Muskegon Lumberjacks Staff

By Mike Sontag, 08/30/21, 9:30AM EDT

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MUSKEGON, MI- The Muskegon Lumberjacks announced today that three long-term staff members have moved on to other opportunities. The Lumberjacks have searched hard to find adequate replacements for Equipment Manager Patrick Dooley, Assistant Coach Josh Nelson, and Director of Broadcasting Scott Bradford.  

During his time with the Jacks, Patrick Dooley celebrated several accomplishments, most recently being named the Equipment Manager for the All-American Biosteel Game in April. The Lumberjacks also made four playoff appearances during Dooley’s tenure. Dooley’s time in Muskegon began with an internship during the 2014-15 season while attending Grand Valley State University. After graduating, Dooley spent a season working for the New Jersey Titans of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) before returning to the Lumberjacks where he would serve as Equipment Manager for the next five seasons. Looking toward the next step in his career, Dooley now takes his skills to NCAA hockey

Josh Nelson is also departing the organization after four seasons. Nelson joined the team as an Assistant Coach ahead of the 2017-18 season. Like Dooley, the Lumberjacks made several playoff appearances under Nelson’s guidance. Originally a defenseman, Nelson played hockey for multiple teams in the NAHL before spending four seasons with Minnesota State. Frustrated with career ending injuries, Nelson was able to maintain his love for the game through coaching. Beginning his coaching career as an assistant for the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the NAHL, Nelson went on to lead the team the following season as Head Coach. Josh Nelson is taking his talents and knowledge to Fox Motors Hockey coaching the U18 Midget Major team and TPH Hockey School.

“For years, Patrick and Josh have worked tirelessly to ensure our players had the tools to thrive and elevate their skills while building a culture of excellence,” said Head Coach Mike Hamilton. “It has been an honor to work alongside both Nelly and Dools and watch them grow within our organization. I cannot thank both of them enough for the time, support and effort put forth.  Both guys are personal friends and will be missed every day here in Muskegon.”

Scott Bradford has been the voice of Muskegon Lumberjacks hockey for several seasons. After graduating from Michigan State University, Bradford called a variety of sports for Aquinas College and Davenport University before signing with the Lumberjacks in 2016. While working with the Lumberjacks, Bradford acted as a one-man band to produce pre-game and in-game broadcasts and was instrumental in growing the team’s social media presence. Bradford has been widely regarded by fans and his colleagues as one of the best announcers in the league. After five seasons with the Lumberjacks, Bradford has made the decision to pursue other opportunities. 

With several big shoes to fill, the Lumberjacks are proud to announce the hiring of three new staff members to take over these roles.

Brian Stoya will take over as Equipment Manager for the upcoming season. Stoya is no stranger to the USHL, working for two years as Equipment Manager for the Dubuque Fighting Saints. After two seasons with Dubuque, Stoya moved on to Columbus, Georgia to work with the Columbus River Dragons of the Federal Prospects Hockey League. A lifelong hockey player, Stoya began his career as an Equipment Management Intern with Union College’s Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey teams.

Taking over for Josh Nelson is CJ Kusch, a familiar face to the Lumberjacks. Kusch spent the 2019-20 season with Muskegon as a Video Coach and now returns this year as an Assistant Coach. Before his coaching career, Kusch played in several junior leagues, including the North American Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Ryan Vallon will be taking over for Scott Bradford on the headset this season. A recent Bowling Green State University graduate, Vallon is skilled in play-by-play for various sports such as football, lacrosse, and volleyball, but hockey is his specialty. As a student at BGSU, Vallon called more than 150 Division I hockey games and now brings a wealth of experience to Muskegon. 

“There is a sense of optimism around the office and the locker room,” said Head Coach Mike Hamilton. “Even though some incredibly valuable members of our organization are moving up, we feel we have found the right people to continue our growth as an organization. Our goal is to be the best junior hockey organization in the world, so we have pretty high expectations when it comes to the staff we bring in.”

The 2021-22 season kicks off on September 25 in Pittsburgh at the DICK’S Sporting Goods Fall Classic. The Lumberjacks will take on the Chicago Steel at their home opener on October 15. Season tickets for the 2021-22 season are now on sale. Single game tickets are available beginning September 1. For more information, please call the Muskegon Lumberjacks Business Office at (231) 799-7000 or email afranczek@muskegonlumberjacks.com.