The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that they have signed 2017 USHL Player of the Year Matiss Kivlenieks to a three-year entry level contract. The Sioux City Musketeers goaltender recently completed his first USHL season after playing one season in the North American Hockey League. The Riga, LAT native previously went undrafted in the NHL.
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 was 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.
Kivlenieks went the entire 2016-17 regular season without losses in back-to-back starts, and made 30 or more saves 16 times during the regular season while compiling an impressive 11-2-1-2 record in those contests. Kivlenieks finished Clark Cup Playoffs with a 2.08 GAA and .925 sv% with Sioux City. His two shutouts ranked second by all goaltenders in the postseason.
Kivlenieks was 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 awards following the 2004-05 season. He was also the first Sioux City Musketeers netminder to win Goaltender of the Year since it was first awarded following the 1983-84 season.
Kivlenieks is the first Musketeers player to sign an NHL entry-level contract since Ruslan Fedotenko. He joins Brandon Montour, Zemgus Girgensons and Daniil Tarasov as recent USHL players to sign an NHL entry-level contract following a season in which they played in the USHL.
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.
Tag(s): Player News