Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks killed by firework at former Red Wings goalie Manny Legace’s Michigan house

Athlete suffered percussion injury when firework exploded at home in Novi

Autopsy: NHL goalie Matiss Kivlenieks killed by firework at Novi house party

NOVI, Mich. – A goalie from the National Hockey League was killed this weekend in Novi when a firework exploded in an apparent accident.

Matiss Kivlenieks, 24, a goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets, was at a gathering Sunday night in Novi when there was some type of fireworks malfunction, according to Novi police. This was at former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace’s home. Legace is currently the goaltending coach for Columbus.

Novi police first said Kivlenieks slipped and hit his head while fleeing a hot tub due to a firework malfunction, but on Monday an autopsy revealed he was killed by blunt force trauma to the chest, authorities said.

“The cause of death includes trauma to the chest area with massive internal injuries,” said Lieutenant James Meier with the Novi Police Department.

Kivlenieks was stepping out of the hot tub when a large mortar type firework tipped and fired right at him. Police say the goalie was about 10 feet away from that mortar at the time. Kivlenieks suffered what is called a percussion injury or blast injury.

It was a direct shot right to his chest that did massive internal damage to the organs.

“There is no indication that anything criminal happened. We are treating this as a tragic accident,” said Meier

Here is a statement from the Blue Jackets:

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.

“‘We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his mother, Astrida, his family and friends during this devastating time,” said Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson. “Kivi was an outstanding young man who greeted every day and everyone with a smile and the impact he had during his four years with our organization will not be forgotten.’

“Kivlenieks, who signed with Columbus as a free agent in May 2017, went 2-2-2 with a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in eight career games with the club. He made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2020, stopping 31-of-32 shots to beat the New York Rangers, 2-1. He posted a 33-35-9 mark, 3.31 GAA, .896 SV% and three shutouts in 85 career games with the Cleveland Monsters, the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate from 2017-21. He represented Latvia at several international tournaments including the 2021 IIHF World Championships this spring, where he went 1-2 with a 2.18 GAA, .922 SV% and one shutout in four games.”

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NHL goalie killed in Novi fireworks incident
Monday, July 5, 2021 news brief

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.