The Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League (NHL) have signed former NAHL and Coulee Region Chill goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a three-year Entry Level contract, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
Kivlenieks, 20, spent the 2015-16 campaign with the Coulee Region Chill of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), 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 Riga, Latvia native was also selected to and played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the Midwest Division team. During that season, Kivlenieks committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Minnesota State-Mankato.
This past season, Kivlenieks went 36-7-4-2 with a 1.85 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and five shutouts in 49 games to help the USHL’s 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 and his SV% was the second highest in USHL Tier 1 history.
He 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%.
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).