Matiss Kivlenieks, 24, died in a ‘tragic’ fireworks accident.
Matiss Kivlenieks, the Blue Jackets’ goaltender, died Sunday night as a result of what the team described as a “tragic accident” in which he suffered an apparent head injury following a fall. He was 24 years old.
The Blue Jackets said in a statement Monday morning that medical personnel were summoned immediately to attend to Kivlenieks, but he succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards.
“We are shocked and saddened by Matiss Kivlenieks’s passing, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his mother, Astrida, as well as his family and friends during this difficult time,” Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said in a statement. “Kivi was an exceptional young man who greeted everyone and everything with a smile, and his impact on our organization during his four years with us will not be forgotten.”
According to the Associated Press, Kivlenieks was attempting to jump out of a hot tub with others following a fireworks malfunction when he slipped and collided with the concrete. After medical personnel arrived, he was pronounced dead on the scene.
Kivlenieks, who recently competed for Latvia at the IIHF World Championships, has started two games for the Columbus Blue Jackets this NHL season. Since 2019-20, the undrafted goaltender has made six NHL starts and eight appearances. He was expected to compete for additional playing time in the upcoming season.
“Life is so precious and can be so frail,” Jarmo Kekalainen, the Blue Jackets’ general manager, tweeted. “Today, embrace your loved ones. “Rest in peace, Matiss; you will be sorely missed.”
Kivlenieks made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2020, after signing as a free agent with the Blue Jackets in 2017. He stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced to lead the Blue Jackets to a 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
Kivlenieks, who was named the USHL Player of the Year in 2017, concludes his NHL career with a 2-2-2 record, a 3.09 goals against average, and a.899 save percentage.
“The National Hockey League was heartbroken to learn of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks’s sudden and tragic death,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement Monday. “On behalf of the NHL family, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and teammates in the Blue Jackets organization as well as in his native Latvia. His zest for life and dedication to the game will be sorely missed by all who were fortunate enough to call him a teammate and friend.”