Lincoln Stars head coach Cody Chupp spoke with local media Monday, addressing his excitement, newest staff member and expectations about the upcoming season.

"I've been here the last three or four days, getting a tour of the city, and obviously getting some work done hiring a new assistant," Chupp said. "Getting the players back on the ice, obviously we are all here to get the product on the ice, and that is the most exciting part. I'm looking forward to our players reporting September 1."

Chupp, hired as the fifth head coach in franchise history last week, is still taking in his new home after spending the past few seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers.

"Just the history in Lincoln is so appealing to everyone," Chupp said. "It's a unique environment with the fan base being so supportive and excited for Stars hockey. The (Ice Box) especially is an amazing environment, and it is one of those places, and I've said it a lot today, it's unique because it's still a home team advantage with the fan base and the passion that supports you in Lincoln.

"I was thrilled when the opportunity arose and I'm thankful and looking forward to getting going."

Monday, Chupp and the Stars announced the hiring of Chris Michael as an assistant coach. Michael spent the past four seasons with the Omaha Lancers, working with defensemen and the penalty kill units. He'll likely have a similar role in Lincoln.

Though Michael coached for a rival team, the state of Nebraska and the rich history of the Stars' franchise intrigued the new staffer.

"The last few months have been a grind," Michael said. "At the end of the day my family and I have loved our time here in Nebraska. It was important for us to try and stay here. As soon as I heard Cody was named the head coach here, I was just kind of hoping for that call — luckily for me I got it a couple days later, and luckily for me here I am.

"To have success in this league, you need to have passion and really anything in life the way I look at it. If you want to be great at something you have to have passion. Playing here a long, long time ago I'll never forget playing here as an opponent and I've always loved the energy, enthusiasm the Stars' nation brought."

Michael couldn't say enough about the fan base he now has behind him.

"One thing I learned is how well Stars' nation travels, too," Michael added. "Our games in Omaha wasn't always a home crowd when Lincoln was in. You appreciate that as a person, as a coach, and as player and hope to add your own take on this organization and helping Chupper here bring the Clark Cup back."

With the Lancers, Michael served two seasons as an assistant during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons before being promoted to associate head coach in 2015-16 and 2016-17. With his time in Omaha against the Stars and the Western Conference, Michael's knowledge of both made him stand out.

"It was important for me in the process of hiring an assistant to find a guy that had that experience as well," Chupp said. "To step in and be a key contributor right away with (being comfortable) in the league and Chris Michael is a great choice for us. He has a history of developing players, knows the league and the west division, which is huge for us and he is going to be a huge asset to our staff."

Chupp hopes to add an additional staff member in the coming weeks.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or tgray@journalstar.com.

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