Columbus Blue Jackets’ Matiss Kivlenieks remembered as ‘hero’ at memorial service after defending others

Simply two weeks in the past, the Nationwide Hockey League was surprised by the lack of Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks, who died July 4 after a fireworks accident. At simply 24 years previous, Kivlenieks’ dying was as tragic and premature as they arrive, which led to an emotional memorial service — and a noble revelation concerning the final night time of his life — on Thursday.

Through the memorial service in honor of Kivlenieks at Schoedinger Funeral House in Columbus, fellow Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins revealed that Kivlenieks protected others from the errant fireworks mortar shell that fatally struck him within the chest. Amongst those that Kivlenieks’ act of heroism saved have been Merzlikins, his spouse, and their unborn little one.

“He saved not simply many lives, however when it occurred, I used to be standing 20-30 ft again of him. And I used to be hugging my spouse,” Merzlikins said. “He saved my spouse, he saved my son, and he saved me. … If that wasn’t me or my spouse or son, that will be 50 different individuals.

“He died as a hero. And that is not me saying. That was the physician saying. … And as Sabrina stated, he saved his final puck. I simply need to let you recognize that he was a hero. He saved numerous lives. And I am fairly positive he did that with a smile, as a result of it is true.”

Kivlenieks was attending a yard social gathering on the house of Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace, which was being held to have a good time his daughter Sabrina’s marriage ceremony. In keeping with the Columbus Dispatch, Kivlenieks had been trying to flee a sizzling tub after a mortar-style firework inadvertently flew over the bathtub, however he was struck by one other shell that fired seconds later. Kivlenieks suffered in depth and deadly harm to his coronary heart and lungs. Police said that no illegalities have been found of their investigation, and that Kivlenieks’ dying is being thought of a “tragic accident.”

Mezlikins revealed throughout his feedback that his unborn son might be named Matiss in honor of his fallen teammate and fellow Latvian. Kivlenieks had been set to contend for a job as backup goaltender for the Blue Jackets after beginning the ultimate two video games of the 2020-21 season.

Together with Kivlenieks’ memorial service, the Blue Jackets introduced the formation of the Matiss Kivlenieks Memorial Fund, which can help youth hockey initiatives each in Columbus and in Latvia. The Blue Jackets and the McConnell household have pledged $80,000 — in honor of Kivlenieks’ No. 80 — to match each donation to the fund.

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