COACH ANZALONE AND COACH ZIRNIS JOIN TEAM LATVIA AT UPCOMING 2018 WORLD JUNIOR HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIPS

Total Package Hockey is pleased to announce that Francis Anzalone, Vice-President, TPH Way, and Karlis Zirnis, former TPH coach/instructor and current Head Coach of TPH hockey partner, the Shreveport Mudbugs, will team up to coach the Latvian Under-20 Men’s Hockey Team at the upcoming 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships in Meribel, France next month.  This assignment will reunite Zirnis and Anzalone, who coached together in Shreveport during the 2016-2017 season, when the tandem helped guide the expansion Mudbugs to a successful 35-win inaugural season in the NAHL.

“We are very excited for Karlis and Francis to coach together on this big stage,” TPH Managing Partner Nathan Bowen said.

FA and Karlis Picture

“Karlis and Francis share the same amount of passion for getting the most of out players.  While their personalities and leadership styles differ, they see the job of a coach, the game of hockey and the vision for their teams the exact same.  They made a great one-two punch last season in Shreveport and I know they will give their best with Team Latvia.”

Zirnis began coaching with TPH after retiring from professional hockey in 2010.  He guided teams at the Bantam and Midget levels for TPH, coaching in the Thunder ‘AAA’ organization.  He also led the NA3HL’s Nashville Jr. Predators for two seasons, amassing an impressive 73-17-4 record.  After a memorable first season in the NAHL last year, Zirnis has the Mudbugs off to a terrific 16-4-1-1 start through the first 22 games of the 17-18 NAHL season.

The 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships will be another one of many assignments Zirnis has had on the international stage.  The Riga, Latvia native has served in various coaching roles for his native country at numerous international events, including the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the 40 year old was as an Assistant Coach on Ted Nolan’s staff.  The upcoming World Junior Championships will be Zirnis’ first assignment as a Head Coach for Team Latvia.

Anzalone returns to the bench after transitioning into an executive role with TPH back in July.  Prior to coaching alongside Zirnis in Shreveport last season, Anzalone guided the NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings for three seasons, spending two as Head Coach.  Before that, the Sault Ste. Marie, MI native spent four seasons with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders, serving in various roles from Regional Scout to Assistant Coach.  It was while coaching ‘AAA’ hockey and scouting for Cedar Rapids back in 2010 that Anzalone was first introduced to Zirnis.  The two met at the Elite Edge Hockey Showcase in Nashville, TN and have grown their relationship ever since.

“Total Package Hockey has always been about connecting quality, like-minded people and building relationships so that we can make a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes.  Former NHL Coach and Stanley Cup Champion, Bob Hartley and the Latvian Federation believe in the impact that Karlis and Francis can have on the country’s top junior players.  This speaks volumes to the kind of people, coaches and instructors that TPH student-athletes are consistently working with.” Bowen added. And it is just that, relationships, that Managing Partner Nathan Bowen has always taken pride in.

HUNTER SKINNER, DETROIT COE, COMMITS TO WESTERN MICHIGAN

Photo courtesy of the Muskegon Lumberjacks

Total Package Hockey is proud to announce that Center of Excellence alumnus Hunter Skinner has committed to play NCAA D-I hockey at Western Michigan University. Skinner, a 16-year-old right-shot defenseman, has skated in six games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) this season.

“Through my life I have had many major decisions to make and this was one of them,” Skinner told MiHockey in an interview. “This life-changing decision was made based on multiple factors. The first factor that was important to me was the atmosphere at Western Michigan. It provided a great environment for my hockey career to progress while getting an education. Western Michigan plays in one of the most competitive conferences in the country – I felt it would fit my style of play.” A native of Pinckney, Mich., Skinner also cited the Broncos’ coaching staff as a big reason for his decision.

“The second factor was the coaching staff,” Skinner said. “First off, coach Andy Murray, a previous NHL coach, provides a great attitude and guidance on how to get to the next level. I am also looking forward to getting under the wing of my past coach Todd Krygier, a former NHL player. He knows what it takes to get to the next level and will provide me opportunities that can change my life forever. Bringing knowledge of the game, Dave Shyiak – who was a scout for Toronto Maple Leafs – will also guide me on my journey as a hockey player.”