Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks’ teammate Elvis Merzlikins posted a heartwarming tribute to the player after his tragic death over the holiday weekend.
Kivlenieks and Merzlikins were teammates on the Blue Jackets and the Latvian national hockey team. Kivlenieks died in a fireworks accident, which prompted the touching Instagram post.
"My little brother, what to say, I really loved you, you where [sic] the little brother for me that I took care of, had call of duty nights with a lot of beers and chew, spending every single day and hour of the day was the best, you where [sic] little brother for my wife and my little family coming up, the extra bonies and treats for koby! He will miss you we all will miss you brother!" the post read.
"Thank you for being such amazing person, always with the smile, and educate, always cleaning after yourself and helping me and my wife in the house! Thank you! I did what I could I know you where [sic] always listening in any suggestions what I could give it to you, how proud I was about of you in New York when u did it in first time and not like me.
"I really love you, I’ll miss you, we had our last basketball game in the pool and we enjoyed before you left me right after.
"We love you and fly high baby, fly high!
"You saved your last puck!"
Kivlenieks, 24, died on Sunday night. A Michigan medical examiner said the cause of his death was chest trauma from a mortar-style firework blast, not from a fall, which is what police initially reported.
Lt. Jason Meier of the Novi Police Department said Kivlenieks was in a hot tub when the mortar-style firework tilted slightly and started to go off toward people nearby. Police initially believed that Kivlenieks hit his head on concrete while running away from the fireworks.
Kivlenieks’ death was announced by the Blue Jackets and Latvian Hockey Federation early Monday.
Fox News’ Dan Canova and The Associated Press contributed to this report.