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Matīss Kivlenieks (1996–2021), NHL goaltender

by Linnea Crowther

Matīss Kivlenieks was a goaltender with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

Professional hockey career

A native of Latvia, Kivlenieks began playing in the Latvian Higher Hockey League before coming to the U.S. in 2013 to play for junior hockey leagues. He signed with the Blur Jackets in 2017 but started out with their AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters. In 2020, he made his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets. Kivlenieks was also a member of the Latvian National Team and was their starting goaltender in 2021, helping lead them to a memorable victory against Canada.

Kivlenieks on victory with the Latvian national team

“It was amazing. After that game, it was obviously late, but people still came to the hotel and just supported us outside and were really happy. Just to have that feeling, it was unbelievable. It was just a great experience and I can’t wait for next year.” —from a 2021 interview with the Columbus Dispatch

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Tributes to Matīss Kivlenieks

Full obituary: The Columbus Dispatch

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