Columbus/Cleveland mourn the loss of Matiss Kivleniek
(CLEVELAND, OH) - July 5th will forever be remembered as a somber day in the sport of hockey, especially to the Cleveland Monsters and Columbus Blue Jackets' organizations and fans. 

Around 8:30 a.m. on July 5th an article saying Matiss Kivlenieks passed away was starting to make its way around the internet. News sources from Kivlenieks' home country of Latvia were first on the breaking news; shortly after that, it was confirmed by the Columbus Blue Jackets that it was indeed true that Kivlenieks passed away due to a tragic accident. 

Below, I'm going to put the Columbus Blue Jackets official statement regarding the passing of Matiss Kivlenieks. The statement was released about 9 a.m.:

"It is with profound sadness that the Columbus Blue Jackets announce goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks passed away last night at the age of 24 as the result of a tragic accident. The Riga, Latvia, native suffered an apparent head injury in a fall. Medical personnel were called immediately, but he succumbed a short time later."

There were rumors that fireworks were involved but the Blue Jackets didn't have that in their official press release. Later in the day, Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline learned that Kivlenieks death "was indeed ruled an accident. However, the cause of death is firework mortar blast, chest trauma". Witnesses that were present told investigators that "Kivlenieks and others were trying to flee a hot tub during a firework malfunction when Kivlenieks slipped and fell hitting his head on the concrete."

I'm not going to speculate why the story witnesses told doesn't match up with what the evidence has shown because it's not the time nor the place. There are also other rumors floating around as to if Matiss Kivlenieks was possibly at a house of a Columbus Blue Jackets coach and if other teammates were present or not. I won't address those either. 

The world lost a great man, player, and person way too soon. For Kivlenieks, a night that should have been one celebrating a holiday with some friends turned tragic. It should be noted that first responders got to the scene in just under five minutes, and proceeded to rush Matiss to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

There's not enough words to describe Matiss Kivlenieks. As a reporter who had the honor of covering him, he was one of the nicest guys you could meet. Kivlenieks always answered questions and was always wearing a smile around the arena. 

As the day wore on, thoughts and prayers came from multiple sports teams throughout all leagues and from plenty of his teammates. Fans of the Blue Jackets gathered at the R Bar in Columbus in remembrance of Matiss and Twitter started a #sticksoutforKivi movement. And there are signs, flowers and cards as a memorial outside of Nationwide Arena. There was also a moment of silence before game four of the Stanley Cup Championship game in honor of Matiss. 

As I said, there are not enough good things to say about Kivlenieks, so I'll leave you with some quotes, and comments from the people who knew him best:

Elvis Merzlikins, via Instagram, "love you my little brother"
Monster teammate Tyler Sikura on Twitter, "heartbreaking. Kivi was an amazing person with an infectious personality and zest for life. He was universally loved and respected in the dressing room. I'm grateful to have shared the ice with him."

Monster teammate Adam Clendening on Twitter, "This is the type of guy that Kivi was! An amazing young goalie, and even better person that did everything he could with a smile and never, ever took a second for granted. Thanks for helping us all with that great attitude and smile everyday! Gone too soon my friend, we miss you!"

Bluejacket teammate Gustav Nyquist on Twitter, "Rest In Peace Kivi. Sending my deepest condolences to your family, friends and everyone in the Blue Jackets organization. You were a great teammate with a bright future. I will never forget the smile you brought to the rink every single day. You will be deeply missed."

Monster teammate Carson Meyer on Twitter, "amazing teammate and friend gone too soon. Rest easy Kivi"

Monster teammate Gavin Bayreuther on Twitter, "Omg. I have no words... Such a good kid and teammate ❤️"

Monsters teammate Dillion Simpson on Twitter, "He was one of the kindest teammates I have ever had the pleasure to play with. A great person who walked in with a smile on his face each day. You will be missed by many, Kivi. RIP"

Monsters teammate Nathan Gerbe on Twitter, "Words are hard to find right now, but the day we put the same jersey on meant that we would be family forever. When my kids play Kivi "the kid" in goal it will have a greater meaning!! RIP kid, love you brother 😢 #cbj #familyforever"

Chris Clark, Cleveland Monsters general manager, "We are devastated by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and send our condolences to his family, teammates, and friends at this time. Matiss approached the game and every day with joy and positivity and his presence will be missed by all. The impact Matiss made on the Cleveland Monsters organization and each of us individually will not be forgotten."

Those were just a few of the comments that were made by teammates and people within the organization. There just isn't enough time to post all the comments people have made regarding the tragic event. 

I chose not to include any statistics of Matiss Kivlenieks because it's not about stats right now. Anyone who knows hockey knows that Kivlenieks was a solid goaltender and had full-time NHL goaltender in his sights. It's more about celebrating the life and legacy Matiss Kivlenieks left behind.
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​POSTED 07/05/2021 21:52
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