COLUMBUS, OHIO --- The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a three-year Entry Level contract, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
Kivlenieks, 20, went 36-7-4-2 with a 1.85 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and five shutouts in 49 games to help the Sioux City Musketeers capture the 2016-17 Anderson Cup as the league's regular season champions. He was named the USHL's Player of the Year and Goaltender of the Year and to the First All-Star Team after leading the league in wins, GAA, SV%, shutouts (tied) and finishing second in minutes played (2,991). His GAA was the second lowest mark for a season in USHL Tier 1 history, trailing the 1.82 GAA posted by the Green Bay Gamblers' Adam Huska in 2015-16, and his SV% was the second highest in USHL Tier 1 history behind .935 SV% posted by the Lincoln Stars' David Reekie in 2007-08.
The Riga, Latvia native led the Musketeers in the playoffs to Game 5 of the Clark Cup final before falling 2-1 in overtime of the deciding game. He finished the postseason with an 8-3-2 record, 2.08 GAA, .925 SV% and two shutouts in 13 contests, leading the USHL in minutes played (807) and ranking second in shutouts and third in GAA and SV%.
Kivlenieks spent the 2015-16 campaign with the Coulee Region Chill of the North American Hockey League, posting a 16-10-1 record with a 2.41 GAA, .925 SV% and two shutouts in 29 games played. He finished fifth in the league in SV% and 12th in GAA.
The 6-2, 184-pound netminder has represented Latvia at several international tournaments. He was named the best goaltender at consecutive IIHF Division I Group A World Junior Championships after leading Latvia to a bronze medal in 2015 with a 1.75 GAA and .928 SV% and to a gold medal in 2016 with tournament-bests in GAA (1.71) and SV% (.941).
Photo courtesy of the United States Hockey League.