Novi, MI – National Hockey League goalie Matiss Kivlenieks died from chest trauma due to an errant fireworks mortar blast on July 4.
Kivlenieks, a 24-year-old who played for the Columbus Blue Jackets, was in a hot tub with other people at his coache’s house when the mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to fire at people nearby, according to ESPN.
The backup goalie tried to get out of the hot tub and get clear of the fireworks with several other people, according to police.
The fire department and EMTs arrived at the house at 10:13 p.m. Sunday and transported Kivlenieks to the hospital where he died.
Before the autopsy was released, it was thought that Kivlenieks slipped and hit his head on the concrete when he was running from the malfunctioning firework, ESPN reported.
“At the moment, we’re pretty certain this was a tragic accident,” said Novi Police Lieutenant Jason Meier, according to ESPN.
Kivlenieks had a career record of 2-2-2 while playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets. In three seasons in the NHL, Kivlenieks had earned a total of $869,321.
“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his mother, Astrida, his family and friends during this devastating time,” Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said, according to ESPN. “Kivi was an outstanding young man who greeted every day and everyone with a smile and the impact he had during his four years with our organization will not be forgotten.”
In honor of Kivlenieks, there was a moment of silence prior to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens, ESPN reported.
“The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, according to CNN. “On behalf of the NHL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates in both the Blue Jackets organization and his native country of Latvia. His love for life and passion for the game will be deeply missed by all those who have been fortunate to have him as a teammate and a friend.”