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Blue Jackets recall Kivlenieks, assign Merzlikins

by Staff @BlueJacketsNHL /

The Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks from the Cleveland Monsters, the club's American Hockey League affiliate, and assigned goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to Cleveland, Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.

Kivlenieks, 23, is 6-1-2 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in nine games with the Monsters in 2019-20. The Riga, Latvia native has posted a 24-26-7 record, 3.20 GAA, .889 SV% and two shutouts in 66 career AHL outings with Cleveland since making his professional debut in 2017-18.

Signed by Columbus to an entry level contract on May 25, 2017, he was named the United States Hockey League Player of the Year and Goaltender of the Year in 2016-17 after leading the Sioux City Musketeers to the Anderson Cup (regular season championship) with a 36-7-6 record, 1.85 GAA, .932 SV% and five shutouts.

Merzlikins, 25, made his NHL debut on October 5 at Pittsburgh and is 0-2-3 with a 3.54 GAA and .890 SV% in six outings with the Blue Jackets this season. He also made his AHL debut with the Monsters on November 8 vs. Laval, stopping 28-of-30 shots in a 2-1 loss.

A native of Riga, Latvia, Merzlikins posted a 105-79-7 record with a 2.68 GAA and .920 SV% in 210 career games with HC Lugano in the Swiss League (NLA) from 2013-19 and won the Jacques Plante Trophy as the league's Goaltender of the Year in 2015-16 and 2017-18. The Jackets' third round pick, 76th overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft went 22-18-0 with a 2.44 GAA, .921 SV% and a career-high five shutouts in 43 outings with HC Lugano in 2018-19.

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