Photo by Hickling Images
The United States Hockey League announced today that Sioux City Musketeers goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks has been named the 2017 USHL Player of the Year and 2017 USHL Goaltender of the Year as determined by a vote of League general managers. The Madison Capitols abstained from nominations and final voting this season.
Kivlenieks appeared in 49 games during the regular season and finished with a record of 36-7-4-2, a 1.85 GAA, a .932 SV% and five shutouts. He led all USHL goaltenders in wins, goals against average and save percentage, and was tied for the league lead in shutouts. Kivlenieks broke the all-time Sioux City records for all four of those categories. The 1.85 GAA is the second lowest mark in USHL Tier 1 history, finishing behind former Green Bay Gamblers netminder Adam Huska, who ended last season with a 1.82 GAA. Kivlenieks' .932 SV% is the second highest percentage in USHL Tier 1 history behind former Lincoln Stars goaltender David Reekie, who posted a .935 SV% during the 2007-08 season.
After starting the season with a solid 4-2-1-0 record through Oct. 20, Kivlenieks earned nine consecutive victories between Oct. 21 and Nov. 26. He led Sioux City to wins in 10 straight starts between Feb. 3 and March 10 and ended the regular season with six wins in his last seven appearances. Kivlenieks went the entire 2016-17 season without losses in back-to-back starts. The Minnesota State University, Mankato commit made 30 or more saves 16 times during the regular season and compiled an impressive 11-2-1-2 record in those contests.
A native of Riga, Latvia, Kivlenieks was named USHL Goaltender of the Week twice, Feb. 27 and Mar 6 and previously played for the Coulee Region Chill (NAHL), Forest Lake Lakers (MNJHL) and HS Prizma in Latvia. He was selected fifth overall by Sioux City in the 2016 USHL Phase II Draft.
Kivlenieks is the first goaltender to be named both USHL Player of the Year and USHL Goaltender of the Year since Omaha's Jeff Lerg won the award following the 2004-05 season. He joins former Musketeers Phil DeSimone (2006-07), Tim Ferguson (1985-86) and Scott Shoffstall (1984-85) as recipients of the USHL Player of the Year Award. He is the first Musketeer to win Goaltender of the Year since it was first awarded following the 1983-84 season.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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