During Fourth Of July weekend, tragedy struck the Columbus Blue Jackets and the entire NHL when it was announced that 24-year-old goalie Matiss Kivlenieks had passed away after an incident involving an errant firework.
Jackets’ Matiss Kivlenieks Dies in Fireworks Accident https://t.co/KcIvVYRJ65
— SideAction (@SideActionHQ) July 6, 2021
During his memorial service on Thursday, teammate Elvis Merzlikins (who was with Matiss Kivlenieks on the night of his passing) spoke on how the young goaltender died a hero.
“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 Arlington, Ohio via ESPN. “He saved my son, he saved my wife, and he saved me.”
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Elvis Merzlikins’ wife is close to giving birth to a baby boy, who the couple agreed will be named Matiss is his teammates’ honor.
Merzlikins also claimed that he was not the only one who believes that Matiss Kivlenieks died a hero.
“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.”
Matiss Kivlenieks will always be a hero. RIP