Photo: Sean Flynn Photography/Quad City Mallards
Quad City Mallards goaltender C.J. Motte has signed a professional tryout agreement with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat and goaltender Ivan Kulbakov has been loaned to the Mallards by the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, the Mallards announced today.
Motte, 26, heads to the AHL for the fourth time this season. The 6-foot, 175-pound St. Clair, Michigan native has gone 2-2-3 with a 2.52 goals against average, a .915 save percentage and one shutout in seven AHL games with the Chicago Wolves and Iowa Wild this year.
Motte has gone 8-11-1 with a 3.48 goals against average, a .908 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games with the Mallards this season. He started seven straight games for the Mallards before joining Stockton.
Motte finished last season- his first with the Mallards- tied for sixth in the ECHL in save percentage (.917) and tied for eighth in goals against average (2.68) while going 20-11-2 in 36 games. Motte represented the Mallards- and earned the win- in the 2017 ECHL All-Star Classic.
Motte last year suited up in the AHL with the Wolves, Wild and Charlotte Checkers. He played in two AHL games last season- both with Charlotte- and went 1-0-0 with a 0.75 goals against average and a .976 save percentage while surrendering a single goal on 42 shots.
Motte went 15-22-2 with a 2.83 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and two shutouts in 42 games as a rookie with the Elmira Jackals in 2015-16.
Motte broke into pro hockey with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, for whom he played four games and posted a 1-2-1 record, a 2.49 goals against average and a .917 save percentage late in the 2014-15 season.
Motte turned pro after four sterling seasons at Ferris State University. In 2014-15 he became the first goaltender in school history to serve as team captain. He set Ferris State records for most career wins and shutouts (15) while going 66-49-12 with a 2.13 goals against average and a .926 save percentage in 127 collegiate games.
Motte not only earned All-WCHA honors in both his junior (first team) and senior (third team) years but was also one of ten finalists for the 2014 Hobey Baker Award. As a senior, Motte finished second in the nation in minutes played (2435:33) and tied for sixth in shutouts (5) after leading Division I netminders in both wins (28) and minutes (2431:06) and also finishing tied for sixth in shutouts (5) in his junior year.
Motte and the Bulldogs won regular season conference titles and earned NCAA tournament bids in both 2011-12 and 2013-14 and in 2012 reached the national title game.
Motte played three years of junior hockey before heading to Ferris State. He spent two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the Waterloo Black Hawks after a single campaign in the North American Hockey League with the Traverse City North Stars.
Kulbakov, a 21-year old rookie, has gone 0-4-0 with a 3.95 goals against average and a .865 save percentage in seven games over three stints with the Monsters this season. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Gomel, Belarus saw action in one AHL game after his most recent recall to Cleveland earlier this month. Kulbakov Wednesday night stopped five of the six Stockton shots he faced in 19 minutes, 54 seconds after entering what proved to be a 6-3 loss for the Monsters at the start of the third period.
Kulbakov has gone 10-9-0 with a 3.47 goals against average and a .906 save percentage in 19 games with the Mallards this season.
Kulbakov shined in the junior ranks for the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms last season. Kulbakov led the USHL in minutes played (3050), finished tied for the league lead in shutouts (5), finished second in goals against average (1.93), finished tied for second in wins by going 30-16-5 and finished tied for fifth in save percentage (.919).
Last season was Kulbakov’s first in North America. He played in his homeland for HK Gomel and Team Belarus U20 between 2012 and 2016. He also represented Belarus at the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
The Mallards return to action tonight on the road against the Indy Fuel. The Mallards next play at home Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. against the Utah Grizzlies. Fans can enjoy $1 10-ounce beers from TaxSlayer Center concession stands during all Mallards Wednesday home games.
Tickets for Wednesday night's game and all Mallards regular season home games are now on sale at the TaxSlayer Center box office, Ticketmaster toll free charge-by-phone (1-800-745-3000) and ticketmaster.com. The box office is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.