Former NAHL, NA3HL coach Zirnis takes job at Alabama-Huntsville
University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey head coach Lance West announced the addition of fellow UAH alum and former NAHL/NA3HL coach Karlis Zirnis to his staff as associate head coach on Tuesday.
"We are very fortunate and excited to be bringing Karlis back to the UAH hockey program," head coach Lance West said. "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's 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-Fairbanks, where he helped guide the squad to back-to-back WCHA playoff appearances.
"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," Zirnis continued. "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 of the North American Hockey League, and he went on to lead his squad to the 2018 Robertson Cup as NAHL Champions. He was named 2017-18 NAHL South Coach of the Year following his team's 41-12-7 record during the campaign.
A native of Riga, Latvia, he has additionally been on Team Latvia's coaching staff since 2012-13 as both an assistant and head coach, while serving as Team Latvia's Under-20 head coach at the 2018 D1A World Junior Championships.
Moreover, Zirnis has additionally served as head coach of the NA3HL Nashville Junior Predators Hockey Club from 2014 to 2016.
Before he began his coaching career, Zirnis – a 2003 graduate of UAH – played as a forward with the Chargers from 1999-2003 appearing in 133 career 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.