Columbus Blue Jackets create Matiss Kivlenieks Memorial Fund to support youth hockey initiatives

Memorial service planned Thursday
Matiss Kivlenieks CBJ
Posted at 8:47 PM, Jul 13, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets announced that a memorial fund had been established to honor goalie Matiss Kivlenieks who died at 24 from a fireworks-related incident on the Fourth of July.

Joined by founder John H. McConnell's family and the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, the team created the Matiss Kivlenieks Memorial Fund.

The fund's contributions will support youth hockey initiatives in Columbus and Lativa, where Kivlenieks is from and will be matched up to $80,000, the team said.

Kivlenieks attended the wedding of Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace's daughter at a home in Novi, Michigan, on July 4.

He was in a hot tub at the residence when a fireworks malfunction occurred.

Kivlenieks tried to get out of the hot tub when he slipped and fell, hitting his head.

While police originally believed the goalie died from head trauma, an autopsy revealed Kivlenieks died from a percussive injury that caused damage to his organs, meaning it was the shock of the firework explosion that led to his death, not him slipping and hitting his head on the concrete.

"Our focus has been on family, both Matiss' in Latvia and our own Blue Jackets family here, and we're doing everything we can to support everyone," said John Davidson, Blue Jackets president of hockey operations, during a July 7 press conference. "I'd also like to thank our fans, the Columbus community, and the hockey world for the outpouring of love they've shown Kivi these past three days. It's been spectacular. The prayers and messages of support have been overwhelming and very much appreciated by all of us."

A Riga, Lativa native, Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in May 2017, going 2-2-2- with a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in his eight career games with Columbus.

Kivlenieks played most of his games with the Cleveland Monsters, the Blue Jackets' affiliate, notching a 33-35-9 record with a 3.31 GAA, .896 save percentage, and three shutouts in his 85 games with the Monsters.

The team also announced that a memorial service would be held to celebrate the life of Kivlenieks on Thursday at 10 a.m.

While it is a private service limited to family, friends, and guests, fans and others unable to attend will be able to view a live stream of the service on the team's website.

Camryn Justice at WEWS first reported this news.