Zirnis leaves Alaska, returns to Alabama Huntsville as Chargers’ new associate head coach

Karlis Zirnis led the NAHL’s Shreveport Mudbugs to the 2018 Robertson Cup title (photo: NAHL).

Alabama Huntsville has announced the addition of Karlis Zirnis as associate head coach.

“We are very fortunate and excited to be bringing Karlis back to the UAH hockey program,” UAH head coach Lance West said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach who has succeeded everywhere he has been. He has coached at many different levels including world championships, and has worked and learned under some of the top coaches.

“Karlis’ work ethic and drive to continually improve as a coach is what makes him stand out to me, and his excellent teaching abilities will be a huge asset to the development of our student-athletes.”

Zirnis comes to UAH after two seasons as an assistant coach at Alaska.

“I am excited for the opportunity to be back with the UAH hockey program and grateful to be able to continue at this level,” Zirnis said. “I am even more excited about UAH because it is my alma mater and I have a deep passion for the university and Huntsville community. I am incredibly thankful to all the donors that have made this even possible.

“I can’t wait to get to work with Coach West on the challenges and potential of UAH hockey, while instilling our culture to shore up the program’s foundations. Being back here at UAH with an opportunity to help take our program to the next level means a great deal to me. I want to thank Coach Largen and Alaska Fairbanks for my first NCAA coaching experience, and I will forever be appreciative to them for all I have gained during my time in Alaska.”

Prior to his time at Alaska, Zirnis was the first head coach for the Shreveport Mudbugs and he went on to lead his squad to the 2018 Robertson Cup as NAHL champions.

Before he began his coaching career, Zirnis played as a forward with the Chargers from 1999 to 2003, appearing in 133 games with 119 points on 46 goals and 73 assists. He is currently second in the program’s modern Division I era with his 119 career points.