Alexandar Georgiev impacted by loss of Blue Jackets young goalie Matiss Kivlenieks

Matiss Kivlenieks
May 8, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks (80) follows the puck in play against the Detroit Red Wings in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers goalie, Alexandar Georgiev was impacted by the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks. In an Instagram story he wrote:

“I always had so much respect for him… Same age as me, undrafted goalie chasing his dreams against the odds. You inspired many. Rest in Peace Matiss.”

Matiss Kivlenieks lost in tragic accident

Tragedy has struck the Columbus Blue Jackets organization hard. Young goaltender, Matiss Kivlenieks died Sunday in what the team called a “tragic accident.” He was 24.

The Blue Jackets said he died from a head injury sustained in a fall but offered no additional details.

“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,” John Davidson, president of hockey operations, said in a team statement. “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.”

It was initially reported that Matiss hit his head on concrete after a fall involving fireworks. A new AP report indicates it was actually chest trauma.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died of chest trauma from an errant fireworks mortar blast in what authorities described Monday as a tragic accident on the Fourth of July.

Police in Novi, Michigan, said the firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby Sunday night. The 24-year-old Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people, police Lt. Jason Meier said. Authorities earlier said the Lativan had died of an apparent head injury during a fall, but an autopsy clarified the cause of death.


Matiss Kivlenieks will be remembered for his kindness

An undrafted free agent from Riga, Latvia, Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets in May 2017 and spent most of his time with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League. With the Blue Jackets, he played in two games in 2020-21 and six (four starts) in the prior season and had a career record of 2-2-2 with a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. He made his NHL debut on the road against the New York Rangers on Jan. 19, 2020, getting the win in the 2-1 game after saving 31 of 32 shots.

He played for Team Lavia in the 2021 IIHF World Championships this spring and was 1-2 with a 2.18 GAA, .922 save percentage and one shutout in four games.

“One thing I loved and appreciated about him was he had a great smile and always was in a good mood,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno told ESPN. “I know it’s cliche, but that’s exactly the kind of guy he was. Just enjoying his life as a 24-year-old living out his dream and you could tell he didn’t take one day for granted, which makes this tragedy even more hard to bear, Praying for his family and all of us who knew him. Hard day for a lot of people in that organization.”

Matiss Kivlenieks
Alexandar Georgiev IG account on Matiss Kivlenieks

–Field Level Media contributed to this article

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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