For the first time in six seasons, the Quad-City Mallards don't have a question mark in net.
The team announced it has re-signed goaltender C.J. Motte, bringing back a key piece from its playoff team last season.
Motte, 25, earned all-star honors last season and went 20-11-2 for the Mallards. He finished sixth in the ECHL with a .917 save percentage and eighth with a 2.68 goals against average.
"It's definitely a breath of fresh air," Mallards head coach Phil Axtell said. "Knowing we have C.J. backstopping us is going to make things a lot easier."
Motte also had three stints in the American Hockey League last season, with the Chicago Wolves, Charlotte Checkers and Iowa Wild. He saw action in two games with Charlotte, going 1-0-0 with a 0.75 goals against average and a .976 save percentage.
"He knows the American League is going to have goalies up there but there's always a chance," Axtell said. "I think he's an American League goalie and so does he so I think he's going to take that mindset of trying to get better every day ... with him, he thinks he can get better every day and that's the mentality we want to have."
Motte is the first goaltender to return to the Mallards since David Brown came back for a second season in 2011. Though the Mallards have been able to find new quality goaltenders each season, Motte's return provides the team with a proven commodity it can rely on.
"There's no guessing. There's no what-ifs or hoping the goalie plays a certain way," Axtell said. "I'm familiar with C.J., C.J. is familiar with me, he trusts me, I trust him. I think if it wasn't that way, he wouldn't be back."
The St. Clair, Michigan native is the ninth player to sign with the Mallards, and the sixth returning player from last year's playoff team. With training camp less than two months away, Axtell can now start focusing on signing defensemen, with seven forwards and a goaltender now signed.
"It's coming together," Axtell said. "A couple irons in the fire, just have to see if they take and hopefully we'll put a good blue line together for next year."