Blue Jackets' Matiss Kivlenieks memorialized with tears, laughter and memories

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The Columbus Dispatch 15 July, 2021 - 12:44pm 10 views

How did matiss Kivlenieks die?

Kivlenieks died on July 4 after being hit by a mortar-style firework at the home of the club's goaltending coach in Michigan. A medical examiner later confirmed the 24-year-old died from chest trauma caused by the mortar blast. 10TV‘He died a hero’: CBJ goalie Elvis Merzlikins says Matiss Kivlenieks saved him, pregnant wife

Emotions led to sobs and a flood of tears. Happier memories ended with laughs. There was even a quip about former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who returned to Columbus to attend.

“Look how many lives you’ve touched, Matiss,” said Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace, who spoke publicly for the first time since the incident at his home in Novi, Michigan. “Look how many lives you’ve touched. Torts even flew in … and he hates goalies.” 

Standing behind him, Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins put his head down and laughed. The rest of the room laughed too.  

“I know a lot of you guys don’t know, but ever since Kivi joined our organization, he would come up and live with my wife and I, every summer,” Legace said. “And he became a son to us. … I got to play golf with him every day in the summer. I got to hang out with him, play cards. He got to become one of my family.” 

Legace looked toward Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen, who was overcome with emotions multiple times during his own comments. 

“Lars, there’s a reason he had the Joker on his mask,” Legace said, referring to the Kivlenieks’ mask design with the famed movie villain on the back. “He had that smile that … he was gonna getcha, you know? He was gonna getcha.” 

Merzlikins touched everybody with his memories of Kivlenieks, whom he’d never heard of until the Blue Jackets signed his fellow countryman in 2017. The two developed a strong bond. 

Merzlikins said he and his wife, Aleksandra, housed Kivlenieks in their guestroom during the pandemic, which he light-heartedly apologized for because it wasn’t in adherence to the NHL’s COVID-19 policies. Kivlenieks also stayed with the couple upon returning to Columbus on June 23 after playing for Latvia during a world championship tournament held in their shared hometown of Riga, Latvia. 

In the week leading up to the July 4 holiday weekend, Merzlikins and Kivlenieks were a tandem, both participating in a ride-along event at Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course with IndyCar driver Alex Rossi and also constructing a crib for the unborn son the Merzlikins couple are expecting in September. Merzlikins also posted a photo on Instagram in the days after Kivlenieks’ death of them sitting by the pool at Legace’s home prior to the incident. 

It was a wedding for Legace’s daughter, Sabrina, and the two Latvian netminders were having a great time. Police say a nine-shot rack of fireworks was angled toward a hot tub where Kivlenieks and others were seated, but a police report detailing how it happened has yet to be released. 

“He saved, not just many lives … but when it happened, I was standing 20 to 30 feet in back of him,” Merzlikins said of Kivlenieks. “And I was hugging my wife. He saved my son, he saved my wife and he saved me. My son’s second name is gonna be Matiss.

"But accept that … if that wasn’t me or my wife or son, it would be 50 other people. He died as hero, and that’s not me saying that. That was the doctor saying (it). If he would just sit, (he) would’ve had nothing.” 

Merzlikins shared more quirks and personality traits of Kivlenieks, who needed a cup of coffee every morning and was a perfectionist in everything from goaltending to golf clubs, which he kept as immaculate as his car. Kivlenieks was also honored with a montage video of his brief Blue Jackets career, including his victory in his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden, and his framed No. 80 jersey was positioned to the right of the casket. 

Speakers included Larsen, forward Nathan Gerbe, Legace and Merzlikins from the Blue Jackets, while pastor Craig Heselton, of Westerville, delivered the convocation

Those who attended included teammates and coaches from Kivlenieks’ multiple stops prior to signing with the Blue Jackets, during his remarkable climb to the NHL from a starting point in Latvia followed by three levels of U.S. junior hockey

They descended upon Columbus from all over the globe, including his family who arrived earlier this week from Latvia — a journey of more than 4,500 miles. Others came from multiple U.S. states and Canada, which Legace and Merzlikins tearfully noted in their commentaries. 

“I love you, I always will love you,” Legace said, after sharing an example of Kivlenieks’ tireless work ethic. “You were my son and you were a great friend to everybody here.” 

Read full article at The Columbus Dispatch

NHL Goalie Matiss Kivlenieks 'Died a Hero' in Fireworks Accident by Saving Teammate and His Pregnant Wife

Yahoo Entertainment 15 July, 2021 - 06:16pm

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins said his late teammate, Matiss Kivlenieks, helped saved lives before his death in a fireworks-related accident on Independence Day.

"He saved not just many lives," Merzlikins said during a memorial for Kivlenieks on Thursday, WBNS reported. "He saved my son, he saved my wife, and he saved me."

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Kivlenieks was in a hot tub celebrating a wedding on July 4, when a fireworks shell inadvertently flew in his direction. He attempted to leave but was struck by a second shell that ignited a few moments later at the home in Novi, Michigan.

The 24-year-old was hit on the left side of his chest and died of external injuries and damage to his heart and lungs, an autopsy report concluded the day after the incident.

During the memorial, Merzlikins said he and his pregnant wife were 20 to 30 feet behind Kivlenieks, and implied that Kivlenieks saved them from potentially being injured.

Merzlikins also announced his son's middle name would be "Matiss" in honor of Kivlenieks.

Manny Legace — a former Detroit Red Wings goalie and the Blue Jackets goaltending coach — spoke during the memorial and called Kivlenieks part of his "family."

"Michigan was his second home," Legace, who was hosting the party where the accident occurred, said, according to WDIV. "A lot of you guys don't know, but ever since Kivy joined (the Blue Jackets) he would come up and live with my wife and I every summer. He became a son to us, lived with us throughout the pandemic."

"He got to become one of my family. He got to be a brother to my daughter and my son, a great friend to our nephew," Legace continued. "I want to thank Matiss' mom and dad for raising a beautiful child."

According to the Dispatch, police said the tragedy is considered an accident and no illegalities have been found during their investigation.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was hailed as a friend and hero during a memorial service held Thursday for the player who died on the Fourth of July from an errant fireworks mortar blast. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and was trying to move out of the way of the firework when he was struck. Fellow Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins, a close friend of the 24-year-old Kivlenieks, told the mourners at the Schoedinger Funeral Home in Upper Arlington that his teammate saved him and his pregnant wife the night he was killed.

Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks was memorialized with memories from teammates and coaches in touching one-hour service.

"He saved my son, he saved my wife and he saved me."

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Former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace was in tears as he remembered Matiss Kivlenieks, who passed away July 4 in a fireworks accident

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Blue Jackets' Matiss Kivlenieks memorialized with tears, laughter and memories: He died a 'hero'

Yahoo Sports 15 July, 2021 - 06:16pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

Eleven days after Matiss Kivlenieks’ life ended at age 24 in a tragic fireworks mishap in Michigan, the former Blue Jackets goalie was memorialized Thursday at Schoedinger Funeral Home in Upper Arlington, a touching service in front of his family, friends, teammates and coaches from nearly every stop of his hockey career.

Emotions led to sobs and a flood of tears. Happier memories ended with laughs. There was even a quip about former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who returned to Columbus to attend.

“Look how many lives you’ve touched, Matiss,” said Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace, who spoke publicly for the first time since the incident at his home in Novi, Michigan. “Look how many lives you’ve touched. Torts even flew in ... and he hates goalies.”

Standing behind him, Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins put his head down and laughed. The rest of the room laughed too.

“That’s the funniest thing that you’ve ever said,” Merzlikins told Legace, lightening the mood to give his coach added strength.

“I know a lot of you guys don’t know, but ever since Kivi joined our organization, he would come up and live with my wife and I, every summer,” Legace said. “And he became a son to us. ... I got to play golf with him every day in the summer. I got to hang out with him, play cards. He got to become one of my family.”

Legace looked toward Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen, who was overcome with emotions multiple times during his own comments.

“Lars, there’s a reason he had the Joker on his mask,” Legace said, referring to the Kivlenieks’ mask design with the famed movie villain on the back. “He had that smile that ... he was gonna getcha, you know? He was gonna getcha.”

Merzlikins got everybody with his memories of Kivlenieks, whom he’d never heard of until the Blue Jackets signed his fellow countryman in 2017. The two developed a strong bond, which Merzlikins said was akin to being brothers.

“I promised myself that I had to come here and talk to him,” Merzlikins said, swallowing hard. “It’s really tough. Matiss ... he wasn’t my friend. Matiss was my little brother.”

Merzlikins said he and his wife, Aleksandra, housed Kivlenieks in their guestroom during the pandemic, which he light-heartedly apologized for because that wasn’t in adherence to the NHL’s COVID-19 policies. Kivlenieks also stayed with the couple upon returning to Columbus on June 23 after playing for Latvia in May during a world championship tournament held in their shared hometown of Riga, Latvia.

In the week leading up to the July 4 holiday weekend, Merzlikins and Kivlenieks were a tandem, both participating in a ride-along event at Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course with IndyCar driver Alex Rossi and also constructing a crib for the unborn son the Merzlikins couple are expecting in September. Merzlikins also posted a photo on Instagram in the days after Kivlenieks’ death of them sitting by the pool at Legace’s home prior to the incident.

It was a wedding for Legace’s daughter, Sabrina, and the two Latvian netminders were having a great time. Police have said a nine-shot rack of fireworks was somehow angled toward a hot tub where Kivlenieks and others were seated, but a police report detailing how it happened has yet to be released.

Merzlikins offered a shocking glimpse into what it was like for those under siege from the mortar shells, which were 3-inches in diameter, legally purchased and legally used.

“He saved, not just many lives … but when it happened, I was standing 20 to 30 feet back of him,” Merzlikins said of Kivlenieks. “And I was hugging my wife. He saved my son, he saved my wife and he saved me. My son’s second name is gonna be Matiss. But accept that ... if that wasn’t me or my wife or son, it would be 50 other people. He died as hero and that’s not me saying that. That was the doctor saying (it). If he would just sit, (he) would’ve had nothing.”

Former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace was in tears as he remembered Matiss Kivlenieks, who passed away July 4 in a fireworks accident

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was hailed as a friend and hero during a memorial service held Thursday for the player who died on the Fourth of July from an errant fireworks mortar blast. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and was trying to move out of the way of the firework when he was struck. Fellow Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins, a close friend of the 24-year-old Kivlenieks, told the mourners at the Schoedinger Funeral Home in Upper Arlington that his teammate saved him and his pregnant wife the night he was killed.

Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop has waived his no-movement clause to be exposed in the Seattle expansion draft next week after approaching his team with the idea. The move, which the team confirmed Thursday, allows Dallas to protect veteran goalie Anton Khudobin from the Kraken. Jake Oettinger, the 22-year old who is considered the Stars' goalie of the future, is exempt from the expansion draft because he is still on his entry-level contract.

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‘He died a hero’: Teammate says NHL goalie saved others in deadly fireworks incident

WDIV ClickOnDetroit 15 July, 2021 - 04:24pm

Kayla Clarke, Web Producer

Kayla Clarke, Web Producer

Kivlenieks, 24, was killed when a firework explosion struck him in the chest July 4 during a party at Manny Legace’s house in Novi. Legace was Kivlenieks’ coach with the Blue Jackets.

Read: Emotional Manny Legace speaks at Matiss Kivlenieks’ memorial service: ‘He became a son to us’

Legace spoke publicly for the first time about what happened that night and the heartbreak it has caused. He said his relationship with Kivlenieks was like father and son.

“I love you. I will always love you. You were my son and you’re a great friend to everybody here,” Legace said.

Current Blue Jackets goalie, Elvis Merzļikins, said he was standing right there with his pregnant wife when the mortar was heading in their direction.

“He saved my son, my wife and me,” Merzļikins said. “He died a hero.

He said he believes Kivlenieks blocked the mortar to keep it from hitting anyone else.

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Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.

Copyright © 2021 ClickOnDetroit.com is managed by Graham Digital and pubished by Graham Media Group, a division of Graham Holdings.

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