Alaska has named former Alabama Huntsville standout and NAHL coach Karlis Zirnis an assistant coach.
Zirnis led the Shreveport Mudbugs to the NAHL championship in May, going 41-12-0-7 during the regular season in just the club’s second season as a franchise.
“Karlis Zirnis is someone we are very fortunate to be adding to Nanook Nation,” Alaska coach Erik Largen said in a statement. “Karlis has a great reputation within the hockey community, specifically as someone who truly cares about his players. He is a proven winner and is committed to the process of making himself and our players better every day. His head coaching experience at the international and junior levels will help in leading this program to great things.”
“While it may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, we would be hypocritical not to be excited for Karlis,” Mudbugs GM Scott Muscutt told the Shreveport Times. “This is the league of opportunity and we celebrate everyone moving to the best level they can. He helped put 22 guys from the championship team to the next level.”
After finishing his collegiate career in 2003, Zirnis played five seasons in the Central Hockey League, making stops with the Amarillo Gorillas, Colorado Eagles and Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. He played for the Huntsville Havoc in the Southern Professional Hockey League and served as team captain during the 2008-09 season.
Zirnis became a scout for the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls and was also an assistant coach for the TPH Thunder midget hockey association before Ted Nolan named him as an assistant coach for the Latvian National Team ahead of the 2013 IIHF World Championship. He coached Latvia at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships, as well as the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.