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Blue Jackets: 24-year-old goalie Matisse Kivalenix dies in accident


Police in Novi, Michigan, say 24-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets goalkeeper Mattis Kivalenix died Sunday night of a head injury following a fireworks accident.

Police in Novi, Michigan, said Monday that 24-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets goalkeeper Matisse Kivalenix died of a head injury following a fireworks accident in July.

Novi Police Department lieutenant Jason Meier said the mortar-style fireworks swung slightly and began firing at people nearby. Meyer said Kivalenix was in a hot tub and fled with several others, but he slipped and his head hit the concrete.

Mayer said the fire department and EMT arrived at the private home around 10:13 pm on Sunday and took him to a local hospital, where he was declared brought dead. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

“At the moment, we are pretty sure it was a tragic accident,” Meyer said.

The Blue Jackets and the Latvian Hockey Federation announced Kivalenix’s death on Monday, with the NHL club saying it was caused by a head injury sustained in the fall. There is no mention of fireworks in the team’s statement.

Many messages left with team and national federation personnel were not immediately returned.

Columbus General Manager Jermo Kecklen tweeted: “Life is too precious and can be very fragile. Hug yourselves today. RIP Mattis, you will be missed.”

“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Mattis Kivalenix, and we extend our deepest condolences to his mother, Estrida, her family and friends during this devastating time,” said John Davidson, Blue Jackets president of hockey operations. “Kiwi was an outstanding young man who greeted everyone with a smile every day and his impact during his four years with our organization will never be forgotten.”

Bateman said that Kivalenix’s “love for life and passion for the sport will be deeply missed by all those who have been fortunate enough to have him as a teammate and a friend.”

Kivlenieks most recently represented Latvia at the World Hockey Championships this spring in which he played four games. He played two matches for the Blue Jackets last season and eight for the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League.

A native of Riga, Latvia, Kivalenix signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in May 2017 and played eight teams for the club. The Latvian Hockey Federation called Kivalenix’s death “a great loss not only to Latvian hockey but to the entire Latvian nation”.

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Associated Press writer Kathleen Foodie contributed.

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