Blue Jackets’ Matīss Kivlenieks dies following fireworks-related accident
Blue Jackets goaltender Matīss Kivlenieks has died following a Fourth of July fireworks accident. The Oakland County medical examiner determined the 24-year-old passed away from chest trauma caused by a fireworks mortar blast. Police in Novi, Mich. earlier said it was due to a fall.
"[T]he mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby Sunday night,” according to the Associated Press. “The 24-year-old Kivleniek was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people, police Lt. Jason Meier said.”
The undrafted Kivlenieks signed a three-year contract with the Blue Jackets in 2017 where he would spend the following three seasons mainly in the American Hockey League and ECHL. He inked a two-year extension last October and played eight games with the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate this past season. He made eight career NHL appearances.
From the Blue Jackets:
Life is so precious and can be so fragile. Hug your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.— Jarmo Kekalainen (@jkekalainen) July 5, 2021
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement:
Kivlenieks also represented Lativa on the international stage at several tournaments. He was most recently in net at the IIHF World Championship in May where he made four appearances, which included a shutout of Canada in their opening game.
UPDATE: The Canadiens and Lightning held a moment of silence before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final: