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Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks has passed away at the age of 24, the team has confirmed.

In a team statement, the Blue Jackets said he died as a result of a tragic fall resulting in a head injury on July 4.

“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,” Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said. “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.”

Kivlenieks had recently re-signed with the club with a two-year deal. The Latvian netminder appeared in eight games over the past two seasons, posting a 2-2-2 record. With the expansion draft set to come and rumors of the Blue Jackets moving one of the team's other two goaltenders, there was a belief that Kivlenieks could have been a full-time NHL goaltender next season.

"The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks,” said Commissioner Gary Bettman. “On behalf of the NHL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates in both the Blue Jackets organization and his native country of Latvia. His love for life and passion for the game will be deeply missed by all those who have been fortunate to have him as a teammate and a friend.”

Kivlenieks recently represented Latvia at the World Hockey Championship, with the highlight being a 2-0 shutout in the opening game to secure his nation's first win against Team Canada in international play - on home ice, nonetheless. 


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