The NHL and hockey communities were shocked to learn Monday that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died following an accident involving a “fireworks mortar blast” and “chest trauma” presumably linked with July 4 celebrations.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan offered more information on Kivlenieks’ shocking passing on Tuesday.
According to Kaplan, Kivlenieks was at the home of Columbus goaltending coach Manny Legace in Novi, Mich., to celebrate the wedding of Legace’s daughter and the holiday weekend when the fireworks accident occurred Sunday. Kivlenieks tried to avoid the firework while inside a hot tub but suffered fatal injuries to his heart and lungs.
Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department told ESPN authorities are currently calling the incident a “tragic accident.”
Kivlenieks, who was set to turn only 25 years old next month, appeared in eight games for Columbus the past two seasons and posted a 3.09 goals-against average and a 0.899 save percentage. In May, Steven Ellis of The Hockey News speculated that Kivlenieks could’ve earned the main backup role with the Blue Jackets by this coming fall.