Just over a year ago, Edmonton Oilers' prospect Kristians Pelss was playing in the Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He was coming off a strong 19-year-old season as a player who could grind, kill penalties, and also pop in a regular goal.
Pelss went missing on Monday, and there were then unconfirmed reports that his body was found in the Daugava, the river that runs through Riga, Latvia. Those have been confirmed:
Delfi News, Diena and Apollo - all Latvian news papers- say Pelss’s body was found in the Daugava River late Friday night.
Pelss disappeared Tuesday, and local media reported that the 20-year-old hockey player jumped off a bridge in his home town of Riga.Rescue services spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele says her department received a call at 1:40 a.m. Tuesday that a man had jumped from the bridge. Police began an investigation.
Police spokesman Tom Sadovskis said Friday police had “suspicions” the man on the bridge had been Pelss, but declined to say why or give further information. The Pelss family was notified and confirmed he was missing. [Global]
The Edmonton Oilers, who selected Pelss in the seventh round of the 2010 draft, released a statement earlier in the week regarding reports of Pelss's body being missing, and will likely have more comment later today. Pelss eschewed his final year of junior eligibility, moving away from the Oilers-operated Oil Kings' organization. He split time with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL and the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL this past season.
The Edmonton Oilers are deeply saddened by the loss of Kristians Pelss, a young man who played in our organization. Kristians had gone missing earlier in the week after returning home to Riga, Latvia, for the off-season. Exact details in regards to what led to this tragedy remain unclear. He was just 20 years old.
"This is the news we feared. Kristians was an outstanding man and we feel terrible he has left us at such a young age," said Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish. "I can’t imagine how painful this situation is for the Pelss family. On behalf of everyone working at the Oilers, Oil Kings and our affiliate teams, as well as all of our fans, I offer our most sincere and deepest condolences to his family and friends. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with them as they work through this incredibly difficult time."
The Oilers also sent out a tweet with a picture of Pelss celebrating the Ed Chynoweth Cup in May 2012: