NOVI, Mich. – The Latvian Ice Hockey Federation says the death of Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks is a loss to the entire country of Latvia.
There was a moment of silence for Kivlenieks at Monday night’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals in Montreal, Canada.
The 24-year-old was at the home of his coach and former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace on Sunday for a party in Novi. Police and witnesses say he was in the hot tub when a mortar-type firework tipped and fired toward Kivlenieks, striking him in the chest.
“Last night, we were under the impression from eyewitness testimony that as he was exiting the hot tub, he fell. The initial thought was head trauma from the fall. But with the medical examiner’s report, we’ve learned otherwise,” said Novi police Lt. Jason Meier.
The report says Kivlenieks had a percussive injury to the chest with massive internal injuries. He was rushed to Ascension Providence Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Kivlenieks played in the USHL as well as in Latvia, working his way up the ranks.
On Monday night, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement:
“The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks. On behalf of the NHL family we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates in both the Blue Jackets organization and his native county Lativa.”NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman