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Latvian hockey goalkeeper Kivlenieks dies aged 24

Latvian ice hockey goalkeeper Matīss Kivlenieks has passed away aged 24, the Latvian Hockey Federation (LHF) said on Monday, July 5.

The LHF has not indicated the cause of the athlete's early death.

Kivlenieks was the goalkeeper of the Latvian team at this year's world championship held in Rīga, playing in four games. In his hockey career, Kivlenieks played eight games in the National Hockey League (NHL), where he concluded the season in the Blue Jackets of Columbus.

According to the Blue Jackets initial official release, Kivlenieks died as a result of a head injury after a fall. 

However, later The Athletic reported that the autopsy results confirmed Kivlenieks died from "chest trauma" after a Fourth of July fireworks accident. The Detroit News reports that "the force of the blast caused chest trauma, and Kivlenieks suffered major damage to his heart and lungs".

“With his fighting spirit, work ethic and attitude [Kivlenieks] was a true model in the sport! Matīss's departure is a big loss not only for Latvian hockey but for the Latvian people as a whole,” LHF said.

Our condolences go to Matīss' family and friends.

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