Jakaitis earns ECHL goalie of month honors

DULUTH -- Jeff Jakaitis tries not to look at the stats.

"Because sometimes the better you're playing or the better you do, it's easy to get lazy or relax and say, 'I've been playing so well, I'm fine,'" the Gwinnett Gladiators netminder said. "You kind of lose the habits that got you in that position. That's when you have the roller coaster years. You play well for a month and struggle for a month.

"The season has enough ups and downs as it is, just with bounces and things like that, you don't want to create those yourself."

The league doesn't have that worry.

They pour over the numbers and it all bears out another honor for the 28-year-old. Jakaitis, under contract with AHL Rochester, was named the ECHL's goalie of the month for December on Thursday.

The award comes after being goalie of the week twice in the last three weeks.

His minuscule 1.66 goal-against average leads the league for the season -- as does his .946 save percentage.

His stats in December were even lower.

Jakaitis posted a 5-2-1 record with a 1.12 GAA and a 9.59 save percentage.

The Rochester, Minn., native tied an ECHL record with three straight shutouts from Dec. 17-28 and was just 20:32 away from tying a 15-year-old mark for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.

"Goalie is a unique position," Jakaitis said. "You do sometimes have the ability to make a difference in the game, but there's so many guys out there playing. It's kind of a cliche answer that you hear, but it really is the truth -- it doesn't matter how good a goalie is, you can't win a game by yourself."

"You can maybe lose a game by yourself," he said with a chuckle. "If you look at way we were playing and the amount of shots on goal -- even within that, the opportunities we were giving up -- were pretty minimal. You credit everyone with that."

His four total shutouts tie a Gwinnett franchise record (set in its inaugural 2003-04 campaign by Michael Garnett) with the season just half over.

Jakaitis is 45-34-14 with 11 shutouts, a 2.63 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 98 career ECHL games with Gwinnett, Charlotte and Columbia. He has also has appeared in 10 career AHL games with Portland and Worcester going 5-3-1 with a 3.27 goals-against average and a save percentage of .901.