Elvis Merzlikins' heartbreaking statement on the passing of his teammate and good friend Matiss Kivlenieks

T. Tadi
July 6, 2021  (8:25)

Many have made beautiful statements on the untimely passing of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks. The 24-year-old was killed on the 4th of July after being hit in the chest by a fireworks mortar. For teammate and fellow goalie Elvis Merzlikins, Kivlenieks passing has struck harder than it has for most. The two grew up in the hockey system together in Latvia and continued their friendship in the NHL when they ended up on the same team. Merzļikins has released a lengthy statement on his Instagram account attempting to sum up his emotions.

"First of all, I would like to say huge thank you to all of you guys for the support and the messages. I'm sorry that I didn't reply on all of them or at all! This day was really really hard for me and our family...," said Merzļikins.
"My little brother, what to say , I really loved you. You where 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 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!"
"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 always listening in any suggestions what I could give it to you, how proud I was about of you in New York when you did it in first time and not like me," said Merzlikins, referring to Kivlenieks getting his first NHL win in his very first game, which was against the New York Rangers.
"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! You will be our guardian angel. R.I.P #80."
Merzlikins was close to three years older than Kivlenieks and it sounds as though Kivlenieks leaned on him as a mentor, which makes perfect sense considering they were the only two current NHL players born in Latvia. The fact that they ended up on the same team must have felt like fate from the very beginning. Several of their teammates commented on Merzlikins statement, including Max Domi, Jack Roslovic, Cam Atkinson, Nathan Gerbe and Kole Sherwood.
The NHL held a moment of silence for Kivlenieks prior to puck drop in game four of the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night.
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