Kivlenieks ‘died a hero’ saving Merzlikins, wife


Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins says his teammate Matiss Kivlenieks “died a hero” after saving him and his pregnant wife from the errant fireworks blast that killed the 24-year-old.

“He saved not just many lives, but when it happened, I was standing 20, 30 feet back of him and I was hugging my wife,” Merzlikins said at Kivlenieks’ memorial service Thursday in Upper Arlington, Ohio. “He saved my son, he saved my wife, and he saved me.”

Merzlikins’ wife, Aleksandra, is in her third trimester, and Merzlikins said their son’s second name will be Matiss in honor of his teammate. Kivlenieks was living in Ohio with Merzlikins, who called his fellow Latvian player “my little brother.”

Kivlenieks died from chest trauma with major damage to his heart and lungs after being hit with an errant firework at a July 4 backyard party at the Michigan home of Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace. The party was also a wedding celebration for Legace’s daughter, Sabrina.

EDITOR’S PICKS

Jackets’ Kivlenieks, 24, dies in fireworks accident
10d

Prosecutor to review Kivlenieks’ fireworks death
4d
In saying Kivlenieks died a hero, Merzlikins noted, “That’s not just what I said. That’s what the doctor said. … And as Sabrina said, he saved his last puck.”

“Just to tell you about the last day,” Merzlikins said. “There were 60, 70, 80 people. I never looked for him. I was talking to so many people. Always, he came to me, he looked for me. We had our last beer, our last shot, last cigar. He was always smiling. I think he made me stronger as a man.”

While fighting back tears, Legace said Kivlenieks “got to become one of my family. He got to be a brother to my daughter and my son, a great friend to our nephew.”

“Michigan was his second home,” Legace said. “A lot of you guys don’t know, but ever since Kivi joined our organization, he would come up and live with my wife and I every summer. He became a son to us. He lived with us through the pandemic.”

Legace brought some humor to his eulogy, noting that former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was in attendance.

“Look how many lives you’ve touched, Matiss. Look how many lives you’ve touched,” Legace said. “Torts even flew in, and he hates goalies.”

“That’s the funniest thing you ever said,” Merzlikins quipped to laughs from the crowd.

Legace thanked everyone who came to the service and lauded Matiss’ mother and father “for raising a beautiful child.”

“You guys don’t know Kivi. He wouldn’t want this,” Legace said. “He’d want everyone to just have a beer and go on their way. But you guys in the Blue Jackets organization have gone overboard, so thank you.”

Many Blue Jackets players and coaches flew in for the memorial service, as did friends and teammates from Minnesota; Kivlenieks began his career in North America with the Minnesota Junior Hockey League in 2014.

Kivlenieks, who signed with the Blue Jackets as an undrafted free agent in 2017, started in two games for Columbus in 2021 but was expected to have a larger role next season. He appeared in the hockey world championship for Latvia earlier this year and posted a shutout over heavily favored Canada.

The Novi (Michigan) Police Department has turned over its investigation into Kivlenieks’ death to the Oakland County prosecutor’s office for review. The police department is still considering the death as accidental and did not request any criminal charges.

Said Legace: “I got to play golf with him every day in the summer. Got to hang out with him, play cards. He had that smile that, he was going to get you. He got to become one of my family.”

Got a story or tip for us? Email Sports Gossip editors at tips@sportsgossip.com 

Want More From Sports Gossip? 

For all the latest breaking Sports Gossip, be sure to follow SportsGossip.com on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

You can view the original article HERE.

Based on a True Story Cast and Release Date | Peacock
FBI Agents Raid Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump Says They Broke Into His Safe
After Posting A Photo Of Herself Sobbing In bedroom, Nicola Peltz Praises Her Followers For Their Encouragement
Abbi Jacobson Says Penny Marshall ‘Was Excited’ About A League of Their Own Reboot Before Her Death
SDCC 2022: Pandemic Edition #1 | Festivals & Awards
An Artistic, Soulful Adaptation of a Beloved Manga
Predator Fans Say Prey Should Have Been Released in Theaters: ‘We Were Robbed’
SDCC 2022: When Science Meets Geekdom
Stockard Channing and Elton John pay tribute to Olivia Newton-John – Music News
“The lyrics were written entirely by me”
Megan Thee Stallion makes guest appearance on P-Valley – Music News
BLACKPINK announce ‘Born Pink’ world tour
Source: Bears WR Harry’s left ankle injury severe
NFL wants refs to focus on illegal contact fouls
Why Adelaide Doesn’t Have an NRL Team
Things to Know About Sports Betting in Australia
Anne Heche Is in a Coma Following Car Crash
Ewan McGregor Reveals the Status of Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 2
Stranger Things’ Joe Keery Joins Fargo Season 5
Miranda Cosgrove Reacts to Jennette McCurdy Speaking Out Against iCarly Creator
Best Travel Dresses to Wear on Trips or Vacations
Daily News: Jacob Elordi Covers GQ, Another Kanye Controversy, The World Loses An Icon
J Lo Rocks a Plaid Tory Burch Bra and Skirt in Capri, Italy
Daily Media: Lori Harvey Signs With IMG Models/WME, And More Moves And Representations To Peruse