SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — The hockey community, both in Siouxland and around the world, continue to mourn the loss of NHL goalie and former Sioux City Musketeer Matiss Kivlenieks, who was killed in a fireworks accident in Michigan over the weekend.
The Latvia native helped the Musketeers to the USHL’s Anderson Cup in 2017. President of Operations and head coach of the Muskies Luke Strand said Matiss grew up quickly once he arrived in American to play hockey.
“I think when you, when you see what he’s built in North America, basically on his own, he came over here on his own, he’s figured it out on his own, he built his own network and his own family and that’s what he’s left behind here is family,” said Strand.
The goalie came to Iowa five years ago where he stayed with the Bevings, a family who’ve hosted several Muskies players over the seven years. His host dad shared of of his favorite memories of Matiss moments after he penned his $3M contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“He had joked earlier about, as soon as he signs it, he’s gonna go buy a Mercedes-Benzes, so I was, I kind of reminded him, I said, ‘Matiss, you don’t even have an American drivers license yet, so maybe buying a brand new Mercedes isn’t the smartest thing to do,'” said Chass Beving, who hosted Kivlenieks.
It was moments like these that showed the Beving’s son, Hunter, the type of character Matiss really was.
“He had an amazing personality, like his smile would just light up the room, he was always smiling. He was always one of those guys that would just crack jokes the whole time,” said Hunter Beving.
And, you can’t forget about his favorite snacks that most pro athletes wouldn’t touch, but necessities for Matiss.
“He would just go to Cubby’s and buy like, six, six liters of Coke and a whole box of Twix, and we’d sit there and watch a movie and eat and drink them all,” Hunter Beving said.
An outpouring of emotions continue to flow from social media with the hastag, #SticksOutForKivi.
Strand shared why Matiss was loved by his peers in the hockey family.
“His, just his demeanor, his swagger, his confidence, his lovability, and he was very infectious that way, so uh, I don’t think he had many bad days for being a young man. He lived it and got after it,” Strand said.
Kivlenieks was only 24. The Musketeers will be retiring his number, 35, this season.