Blue Jackets establishes memorial fund in honor of Matiss Kivlenieks, release details for memorial service

Columbus Blue Jackets

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 19: Matiss Kivlenieks #80 of the Columbus Blue Jackets prepares to tend net in his first NHL game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2020 in New York City. The Blue Jackets defeated the Rangers 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Monday it would establish a memorial fund in honor of Matiss Kivlenieks to benefit youth hockey initiatives.

The Matiss Kivlenieks Memorial Fund will support youth hockey initiatives in both Columbus and Kivlenieks’ home country of Latvia.

The team will match every donation made to the fund up to $80,000.

“The outpouring of love and support for Kivi and our organization since his passing has been both overwhelming and inspiring,” the team posted to its website. “All contributions that have already been made to the Foundation in his name will be directed to this fund.”

Kivlenieks, 24, died July 4 from a fireworks misfire in Novi, Michigan, while attending a gathering at the home of Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace, whose daughter was getting married that weekend.

Kivlenieks, who signed with Columbus as a free agent in May 2017, went 2-2-2 with a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in eight career games with the club. He made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2020, stopping 31-of-32 shots to beat the New York Rangers, 2-1.

He posted a 33-35-9 mark, 3.31 GAA, .896 SV%, and three shutouts in 85 career games with the Cleveland Monsters, the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate from 2017-21.

He represented Latvia at several international tournaments including the 2021 IIHF World Championships this spring, where he went 1-2 with a 2.18 GAA, .922 SV%, and one shutout in four games.

Prosecutors in Michigan are reviewing information from police to determine whether charges should be filed in the death.

A private funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, July 15, at 10 a.m. The service will be limited to family, friends, and invited guests, the Blue Jackets said in a press release. It will be streamed live via the Blue Jackets website.

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