Things have a funny way of coming around full circle.
In May, the Sioux City Muskateers selected former Coulee Region Chill goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks with the fifth overall pick of the 2016 USHL Entry Draft. That move his since worked out wonderfully for Kivlenieks — a Minnesota State University-Mankato commit, who is 8-2-1 in his first season in the USHL — but it also left Coulee Region lacking in net, as goaltending has been an area of concern for the Chill all year.
Thankfully for Coulee Region, the Muskateers have seemingly returned the favor — albeit involuntarily.
Enter 16-year-old goaltender Todd Scott.
An Albertville, Minn., native, Scott’s player rights were initially protected by Sioux City, which drafted Scott in the third round of the USHL Futures Draft in May. Scott was then handed a summer try out before getting cut by the Muskateers in main camp.
In hindsight, the Chill are happy he was.
“He’s a potential Division I candidate, for sure,” Chill coach Ryan Egan said of Scott, who last weekend turned his first two NAHL starts into Midwest Division Star of the Week honors.
“We liked what we saw out of him a lot this past week. We think he could be something that this organization could be excited about.”
Scott was handed consecutive starts in his first weekend in the NAHL, and he didn’t disappoint. In two wins over defending Robertson Cup champion Fairbanks, Scott — who initially joined Coulee Region as an affiliate player — stopped 58 pucks while saving more than 95 percent of the shots he encountered. Scott also recorded 28 saves in Friday’s 6-3 win over Kenai River, as he clinched his third league victory in as many starts.
“When I first came in for practice, I was really nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the boys really welcomed me and made me feel at home,” said Scott, who on Thursday was recognized with an honorable mention in this month’s NAHL Goaltender of the Month voting. “So when I was going into the game (on Oct. 28), I knew that these guys had my back and that I’d be able to play to the best of my ability.”
Entering last weekend, no Chill goaltender had won consecutive starts.
Scott did so with his first two league appearances, and has now won three straight to start his NAHL career.
“When we were going out through the iceburg, I was getting real nervous. I didn’t want to toe pick or anything,” Scott said of his first Coulee Region appearance, which resulted in a 5-1 victory. “Once the game started, I didn’t control a few pucks the way I wanted to, but then eventually I calmed down and got into the game and got in my groove.
“I feel like I’m at the top of my game right now. I feel like we’re going to win every game for the rest of the season. I feel like the boys have a chance to win a trophy this year.”
Coulee Region’s goaltenders have struggled for consistency, and confidence, all season.
But it seems the Chill found a bit of both in their newfound rookie, who, in all likelihood, will play for them the rest of the season, and may soon become their new No. 1.
“I think he came in with the expectation of himself that he belongs at this level. So he had something to prove, for sure,” Egan said. “Physically, he’s mature. He’s a 6-foot, 190-pound kid that is extremely athletic, and I think that showed in both games this weekend. He made some athletic saves, and he played with a lot of confidence, which, we thought, if he was going to lack anywhere it might be the mental side due to his age.”
Prior to his NAHL debut, Scott led the Omaha AAA Hockey Club to an NAPHL title in 2015-16, producing a miniscule 0.80 goals-against average en route to All-NAPHL 16U first-team honors. Then, after being cut by Sioux City, Scott returned to Omaha, where he won each of his first three starts.
Still, Scott was hoping for another opportunity at the next level.
That’s when Egan made a phone call.
“I have some history in Omaha,” Egan said. “I had coached in Omaha for years, so I called their coach and asked if we could get (Scott) up here for a week. He came up and skated, we played him, and it seems to be working out in our favor, for sure.
“All of us thought he was fantastic.”