NAHL alum Kivlenieks agrees to two-year extension with Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed restricted free agent goaltender and NAHL grad Matiss Kivlenieks to a two-year, two-way National Hockey League/American Hockey League contract extension through the 2021-22 season, club General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen announced.
Kivlenieks, 24, made his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets in 2019-20, posting a 1-1-2 record with a 2.95 goals-against average, .898 save percentage in six games, which included four starts. He turned aside 31 shots in a 2-1 victory at the New York Rangers on January 19 to become the second player in franchise history to win his NHL debut (Steve Mason). The netminder helped the club collect a point in each of his first three NHL starts from January 19-February 13 (1-0-2).
A native of Riga, Latvia, Kivlenieks owns a 27-33-8 record with a 3.23 GAA, .892 SV% and three shutouts in 77 career AHL appearances with the Cleveland Monsters since making his professional debut in 2017-18. He went 9-8-3 with a 2.96 GAA, .904 SV% and one shutout in 20 outings with Cleveland in 2019-20.
The 6-2, 178-pound netminder was originally signed to an entry level contract by Columbus on May 25, 2017. After two years of playing Tier III junior hockey, Kivlenieks turned some heads and earned a chance to jump up to the NAHL in 2015-16 with the Coulee Region Chill. During that season in the NAHL, he posted a 16-10-1 record with a 2.41 goals against average and a .925 save percentage, which ranked 5th in the league. He also played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. He also committed to Minnesota State that season, but decided to sign with the Blue Jackets a year later.
He was named the United States Hockey League's Player of the Year and Goaltender of the Year in 2016-17 after leading the league in wins, GAA, SV% and shutouts (tied) with a 36-7-6 record, 1.85 GAA, .932 SV% and five shutouts in 49 games with the Sioux City Musketeers. He has represented Latvia at several international tournaments, including the 2016 IIHF D1A World Junior Championships and 2014 IIHF U18 D1A World Championships.