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‘Way too young’: Tragedy hits ice hockey as Latvian NHL star Matiss Kivlenieks dies aged 24

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The world of ice hockey is reeling after the death was announced of Latvian goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks of NHL outfit the Columbus Blue Jackets, who has passed away at the age of just 24.

Specific details as to Kivlenieks’ passing have yet to be revealed but the news has been confirmed on social media by several figures close to the situation, including Jackets beat reporter Aaron Portzline of The Athletic.

Portzline said on social media that he was investigating the circumstances surrounding the Latvian star’s death, with further information expected throughout Monday.

Confirmed reports in Latvia that G Matiss Kivlenieks has passed away at the age of 24. Working on the details, but such awful news,” wrote Portzline.

Another hockey insider, Frank Seravalli, also confirmed the tragic news online, writing: “Very sad news, CBJ goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks has passed away at age 24.”

Kivlenieks, who was a native of the Latvian capital of Riga, entered the NHL as an undrafted rookie before the 2017 season. After an apprenticeship with development side the Cleveland Monsters, he signed a two-year contract with the Blue Jackets before the 2020 season and has appeared in 8 total games in the past two years. 

During the time he went 2-2-2 as a goaltender, averaging 3.09 goals conceded and a save percentage of .889. 

Kivlenieks was also a star for Latvia at the recent World Hockey Championship which took place in his home country, and in which he was crucial to his team’s shutout win against the future world champion Canadian team in the opening game of the tournament. 

Incredibly sad news for hockey fans everywhere. He had loads of potential, he showed that at the Worlds playing for Latvia. Kept reading that Columbus was going to trade a goalie so they could promote him to the back up role,” was one fan’s reaction to the news.

I just saw him playing the Worlds… Too soon,” said another.

Rest In Peace. Way too young,” came the thoughts of a third.

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