June 15, 2013 1:03 pm

Latvian officials confirm death of Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss

EDMONTON- Multiple Latvian news agencies are reporting that State Police have confirmed the body of Edmonton Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss has been recovered.

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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.

The Edmonton Oilers released a statement Saturday afternoon saying they’re deeply saddened by the loss of Pelss.

“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.”

Those who knew and played with Pelss say he will be greatly missed.

“Knowing him, for the years I did, the personality and the character he was, I mean, anyone who had been around him, he’s just a beam of light. The energy and charisma he carried just upon himself … is just unbelievable,” said Travis Ewanyk, who played with Pelss for two years with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

“I had the honour to be living with him in Stockton when he was down there, and I knew him in Oklahoma and I knew him for a couple of years, we’ve played hockey before together, through the WHL,” said Tyler Bunz, “My condolences go out to their family. He was a great kid.”

The details surrounding Pelss’s death remain unclear. Pelss arrived home in Riga on Monday after playing last season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. He was drafted by the Oilers in the 7th round in 2010.

Several members of the hockey community, including a couple of Oil Kings, also took to Twitter Saturday, to share their condolences.

With files from The Associated Press. 

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