The Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blue Jackets Foundation and the McConnell family were deeply saddened by the sudden passing of CBJ goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks on July 4th at the age of 24. In addition to being an outstanding player, Kivi was a warm and engaging young man who made a significant impact on our organization and all those who knew him.

To honor his memory, The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation has established the Matiss Kivlenieks Memorial Fund to support youth hockey initiatives in Columbus and his native Latvia. In tribute to our No. 80, the Blue Jackets and McConnell family have pledged $80,000 to match every donation made to the fund in Kivi's memory. 

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

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About Matiss Kivlenieks

Matiss Kivlenieks was born on August 26, 1996 in Riga, Latvia. He began playing hockey at the age of four and in 2013, at the age of 16, he moved to North America to pursue his dream of becoming a National Hockey League player. He played three seasons of junior hockey in Minnesota and Wisconsin before joining the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League in 2016. 

He enjoyed a remarkable season in 2016-17, earning USHL Most Valuable Player and Goaltender of the Year honors after going 36-7-6 with a 1.85 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and five shutouts. Following the season on May 25, 2017, he signed a free agent contract with the Blue Jackets. 

"Kivi" spent four seasons in the Blue Jackets organization and went 2-2-2 with a 3.09 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in eight career NHL games. He made his NHL debut at historic Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2020 and stopped 31-of-32 shots to beat the New York Rangers, 2-1. He made his last appearance for Columbus in the 2020-21 season finale at Nationwide Arena on May 8 when made 33 saves in a 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. During his time as a Blue Jacket, he also appeared in 85 games with the American Hockey League's Cleveland Monsters between 2017-21. 

"Kivi" represented his native Latvia at several international tournaments including the 2021 IIHF World Championships this past spring. He went 1-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and one shutout in four games with his one win being one of the most historic in Latvian hockey history.  

On May 21st, Latvia faced Canada for the 22nd time in international play. In those 21 previous meetings - at the Olympics, World Championships, World Junior Championships and Under-18 World Championships - Latvia had gone 0-20-1. Canada held a commanding 38 to 15 advantage in shots on goal that night, but it would not be enough as "Kivi" made 38 saves to lead Latvia to a 2-0 win.

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