Shreveport names Anzalone as associate head coach
The Shreveport Mudbugs, proud members of the North American League, have announced that Francis Anzalone has been hired as the team’s associate head coach ahead of its first season in the NAHL.
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Anzalone has spent seven seasons working in the NAHL and USHL and brings a wealth of knowledge and league experience to the Shreveport coaching staff.
“I feel very fortunate to be joining the Shreveport Mudbugs,” Anzalone said. “The vision of the organization, the quality of the people involved and the passionate fan base makes this a very intriguing opportunity.”
Mudbugs general manager Scott Muscutt said the addition of Anzalone bolsters a Shreveport franchise whose culture is built around character and passion for hockey and community.
“The Mudbugs are extremely excited to have Francis join our club,” Muscutt said. “He brings extensive NAHL experience and his energy, work ethic, attention to detail and passion for the game makes him a pro. He brings a long history and ability to develop and advance players to college hockey. He also not only possesses character, but has always demanded it from his players.”
The 28-year-old most recently served as head coach of the NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings. In Anzalone’s three seasons with the Wings, fifteen players advanced to the Division I level. In addition, five of the six goaltenders Anzalone coached made Division I commitments, including future UND Fighting Hawk Peter Thome, who was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the sixth round of the NHL draft last month.
Prior to his time in Aberdeen, Anzalone spent four seasons with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, working as a scout before being promoted to assistant coach. Alongside Shreveport head coach Karlis Zirnis, Anzalone believes his time spent in the top two junior leagues in the country will benefit the Mudbugs on and off the ice.
“I want to take all of my experiences and all of the knowledge I’ve gained and use it to help the organization and the players,” Anzalone said. “I want to help accelerate the process of fostering the right culture and help build a great program that the fans in Shreveport will be proud of and the right people in the hockey world will connect with.”
Behind the Shreveport bench, Anzalone and Zirnis will continue a hockey relationship they’ve had since 2008 when the new associate head coach worked at the bantam AAA level. Anzalone and Zirnis met at the Elite Edge Hockey Showcase in Nashville, which has further fostered the partnership between TPH and the Mudbugs.
Additionally, Anzalone’s father, Frank, was a longtime professional and collegiate coach and has worked in the same circles as Muscutt. The elder Anzalone is presently the NCAA Scout for the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
In Shreveport’s first season in the NAHL, Anzalone hopes to make an impact on the Mudbugs players and community.
“I love to teach and I love to make an impact on the players, not only as athletes but also as people,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to support and grow the vision of the Mudbugs and help each individual player be the best that he can be on and off the ice.”