Former Bossier-Shreveport Mudbug Karlis Zirnis has been named head coach of the new Shreveport Mudbugs hockey team.
The Mudbugs, a member of the North American Hockey League, will begin play in September at George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.
Zirnis spent the last two seasons as head coach of the Nashville Junior Predators of the North American 3 Hockey League. He has also been an assistant for the Latvian national team, coaching in the 2014 and 2015 World Championships and the 2014 Olympics, according to his Wikipedia page.
Zirnis, 39, is a native of Riga, Latvia. According to hockeydb.com, he played 105 games for the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central Hockey League in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
He had 22 goals and 30 assists in 64 regular-season games in 2006-07 and eight goals and 23 assists in 41 games in 2007-08.
Zirnis also played two seasons for the CHL’s Colorado Eagles before coming to the Mudbugs. He helped the Eagles win the 2005 Ray Miron President’s Cup.
After leaving the Mudbugs, Zirnis played one full season with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Huntsville Havoc. He retired in 2009 after playing one game with the Havoc.
After a stint with the Gaylord Grizzlies of the NAHL, Zirnis played collegiately from 1999-2003 for the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers and was the leading scorer his sophomore and junior seasons, according to his Wikipedia page.
After his playing career, Zirnis was a scout for Amarillo of the NAHL and an assistant coach for the Total Package Hockey Thunder midget hockey association. Total Package Hockey is providing all hockey operations for the Shreveport Mudbugs, according to a recent press release.
The North American Hockey League will celebrate its 41st season in 2016-17. It is the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior league, according to the NAHL website, and has 24 teams in 12 states.
Players range in age from 16-20. Player development is a priority with most having the goal of advancing to college and/or professional teams.
According to the NAHL website: “The NAHL offers junior hockey players the opportunity to develop, learn, train, grow and succeed, while playing for free. The NAHL is unique in the fact that a vast majority of players begin their NAHL careers without an NCAA opportunity, but earn one through the course of their development in the league.”
More than 210 players committed to NCAA schools during the 2015-16 season, according to the website.
The Mudbugs are in the South Division along with the Amarillo Bulls, Corpus Christi IceRays, Lone Star Brahmas, Odessa Jackalopes, Topeka Roadrunners and Wichita Falls Wildcats.
— Staff Reports, firstname.lastname@example.org