The hockey world is still coming to terms with the tragic loss of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, who tragically lost his life in a fireworks accident at the suburban Detroit home of goaltending coach Manny Legace during a 4th of July party.
Kivlenieks was struck in the chest by an errant firework mortar blast and succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital, with the cause of death being listed as chest trauma which triggered major damage to his heart and lungs.
And according to his teammate and fellow Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, Kivlenieks saved him, his wife and the baby they are expecting. They were 20-30 feet behind him.
The Blue Jackets has since created the Matiss Kivlenieks Memorial Fund, which is joined by founder John H. McConnell’s family and the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation. Funds will go to support youth hockey initiatives in both Columbus and Lativa and will be matched up to $80,000.