Hayden Nichol and Landry Schmuck, both of the TPH Center of Excellence in Nashville and the 18U AAA Jr Predators, received tender offers. Nichol singed a tender with the NAHL Shreveport Mudbugs and Schmuck was tendered by the Aberdeen Wings. Watch as both speak with TPH’s Justin Bradford about the exciting next step for their careers, their experience at the Center of Excellence and some fun “get-to-know-you” questions.
Learn more about the Center of Excellence here.
Learn more about the Nashville Jr Predators here.
Thunder Hockey would like to congratulate Karlis Zirnis for being named the head coach of the Shreveport Mudbugs. The Mudbugs will play their inaugural season in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Please click on the link below to watch the press conference and for more details.
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.”
Two TPH Detroit Center of Excellence student-athletes — Jake Transit and Cannon Green — have tendered to the NAHL’s Shreveport Mudbugs.
The two Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U18 teammates join the Mudbugs, who are in the midst of their inaugural season in the NAHL and have a 18-11-0-1 record. Both CoE students will add skill to Shreveport’s forward group.
Transit, a 17-year-old from Royal Oak, Mich., has already featured in two games with the Mudbugs. In 24 games with the OJG U18 this season, he had 11 goals and 11 assists. Before joining OJG, Transit starred for the Honeybaked and Belle Tire programs.
Green, a 16-year-old from Hinsdale, Ill., had more than a point per game with OJG U18 with 28 points in 24 games. Last season with the Jr. Grizzlies’ U16 team, he tallied 25 points in 31 games.
The Shreveport Mudbugs made an emphatic debut in the North American Hockey League on Wednesday morning in Blaine, Minnesota. Jacob Holmers scored 2:56 into the 2016-17 season — after more than five years, plastic crustaceans again hit the ice in celebration — and the Mudbugs applied pressure throughout a 3-1 victory against the Northeast Generals at the NAHL Showcase.
Head coach Karlis Zirnis couldn’t have asked for a much better start in the Mudbugs’ return to hockey as his team outshot the Generals 44-22.
Holmers’ first-period wrister from the left circle was part of a dominating opening frame for the teal and purple. The Mudbugs outshot the Generals 19-5 in the first period and 14-5 in the second.
“We want to be fast, we want to be aggressive and we want to be physical,” Zirnis said. “Props to the guys. They came out and executed what the coaching staff asked.”
Gueorgui Feduolov scored 57 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0 Shreveport. The Mudbugs took a 3-0 lead midway through the third period on a goal from Eriks Zohovs.
The Generals spoiled a shutout bid by 17-year-old John Roberts when they scored with 1:57 left in the game.
Feduolov and Zohovs garnered a goal and an assist in their Mudbugs debut. Frankie Melton collected a pair of assists.
“It’s a big showcase for these players, there are a lot of scouts and everything else,” Zirnis said. “They just worried about doing their job, their part. They weren’t distracted by the big lights, showed good composure and played Mudbugs hockey.”
Northeast, also a new NAHL franchise for 2016-17, has lost its first three games of the regular season.
Shreveport gets right back on the ice Thursday’s for an 8:15 p.m. matchup against the Janesville Jets. Friday will offer a 4 p.m. faceoff against the Kenai River Brown Bears. The Mudbugs will complete the showcase with a noon contest against the Johnstown Tomahawks on Saturday.
“I will try to get the exposure for all the players,” Zirnis said regarding the showcase. “Johnny played well in net, but we’ll give the next guy a chance.”
Zirnis said the plan is to start 18-year-old Brookline, Massachusetts, product Dario Latessa between the pipes Thursday night.
Croix Evingson made Mudbugs history Saturday.
In the seventh round of the NHL Draft, the Winnipeg Jets selected the Shreveport Mudbugs defenseman with the 211th overall selection.
Shreveport Mudbugs defenseman Croix Evingson was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets.(Photo: Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times)
The 6-foot-5, 209-pound Alaska native captured Defenseman of the Year honors in the North American Hockey League for the 2016-17 season. He led all blue-liners with 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists).
Evingson is committed to play college hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
The Mudbugs recently completed their first season in the NAHL, a Tier-II junior league. Evingson is the player in the history of the franchise to be drafted after playing in Shreveport.