Matiss Kivlenieks, a 6-year-old boy from Latvia who was killed by a fireworks blast last week, was praised at his memorial service for saving “many lives” in the future.
Matiss Kivlenieks, a masters leaderboard 21, was praised at his memorial service for saving many lives from fireworks blast.
Matiss Kivlenieks “died a hero,” according to Columbus Blue Jackets goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikins, after rescuing him and his pregnant wife from an errant fireworks explosion that killed the 24-year-old.
“He saved not only many lives, but I was standing 20, 30 feet back from him and holding my wife when it occurred,” Merzlikins said during Kivlenieks’ funeral ceremony in Upper Arlington, Ohio, on Thursday. “He rescued my kid, my wife, and myself,” says the narrator.
Merzlikins’ wife, Aleksandra, is expecting their first child, and Merzlikins has revealed that their son’s middle name will be Matiss, in honor of his colleague. Merzlikins, Kivlenieks’ Latvian teammate, referred to him as “my little brother” when they were both living in Ohio.
After being struck by an errant firework at the Michigan house of Blue Jackets goalie coach Manny Legace on July 4, Kivlenieks died from chest trauma with severe damage to his heart and lungs. Legace’s daughter, Sabrina, was getting married, thus the party doubled as a wedding reception.
Merzlikins observed that Kivlenieks died a hero when he claimed he died a hero “That isn’t exactly what I meant. That’s exactly what the doctor stated. He also preserved his final puck, as Sabrina said.”
“I just wanted to tell you about the previous day,” Merzlikins said. “There were 60, 70, or 80 individuals in the room. I never went out of my way to find him. I was conversing with a large number of individuals. He always came to me, looking for me. We drank our final beer, took our last shot, and smoked our last cigar. He had a constant grin. I believe he helped me grow as a man.”
Legace stated Kivlenieks while holding back tears “to become a member of my family He was a wonderful buddy to our nephew and a brother to my daughter and son.”
Legace said, “Michigan was his second home.” “Many of you are unaware, but ever since Kivi joined our group, he has spent every summer with my wife and myself. We adopted him like a son. During the epidemic, he stayed with us.”
Legace injected some levity into his eulogy by mentioning the presence of former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella.
“Look at how many people’s lives you’ve influenced, Matiss. Consider how many lives you’ve influenced “Legace explained. “Torts even came in on a plane, yet he despises goalies.”
Merzlikins said, “That’s the funniest thing you’ve ever said,” drawing laughter from the audience.
Legace thanked everyone who attended the memorial ceremony and praised Matiss’ parents for “raising a lovely kid.”
“You’ve never heard of Kivi. This isn’t something he’d want “Legace explained. “He’d rather that everyone simply have a drink and go. However, the Blue Jackets organization has gone above and beyond, so thank you.”
Many Blue Jackets players and coaches, as well as friends and teammates from Minnesota, traveled in for the funeral ceremony; Kivlenieks started his career in North America with the Minnesota Junior Hockey League in 2014.
Kivlenieks, an undrafted free agent who joined with the Blue Jackets in 2017, appeared in two games for Columbus in 2021 but was anticipated to play a bigger role following season. Earlier this year, he represented Latvia at the World Hockey Championships, where he recorded a shutout victory against highly fancied Canada.
The Novi Police Department in Michigan has handed over their investigation into Kivlenieks’ death to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office for consideration. The death is currently being investigated as an accident, and no criminal charges have been filed.
Legace stated: “During the summer, I got to play golf with him every day. I had the opportunity to hang out with him and play cards with him. He had the look on his face that said, “I’m going to get you.” He eventually became a member of my family.”
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