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Blue Jackets to honor life of Matiss Kivlenieks at season opener

A banner featuring his number “80” will be unveiled and remain in the arena’s rafters for the season.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets will be honoring the memory of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks during the team’s season opener at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

Kivlenieks died on July 4 after being hit by a mortar-style firework at the home of the club's goaltending coach in Michigan. A medical examiner later confirmed the 24-year-old died from chest trauma caused by the mortar blast.

Members of his family, including his mother, stepfather, sister and aunt, will be in attendance and participate in a ceremonial puck drop prior to the game.

A banner featuring his number “80” will be unveiled and remain in the arena’s rafters for the 2021-22 season.

His number will also be visible in the ice behind both nets for Thursday’s game vs. Arizona and Saturday’s contest vs. Seattle.

Blue Jackets players will wear an “80” sticker on their helmets throughout the season.

After his passing, the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation established the Matiss Kivlenieks Memorial Fund to support youth hockey initiatives in Columbus and his native Latvia.

The organization and McConnell family pleaded $80,000 to match every donation made to the fund in Matiss’ memory. According to the team, over $100,000 has been raised.

All CBJ Foundation fundraising activities on opening night – including 50/50 Raffle, auction and merchandise sales including official warm-up pucks and special “Kivi” hats and t-shirts, will benefit the fund.

For more information or to make a contribution, visit www.BlueJackets.com/Kivi.

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