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Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss disappears after reportedly jumping into Latvian river

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Kristians Pelss helped the Oil Kings win the WHL title in 2012 (The Canadian Press)

A little more than a year ago, Kristians Pelss experienced the zenith of any young hockey player's existence when he raised the Ed Chynoweth Cup with his Edmonton Oil Kings teammates. That was a happy time, but now an unconfirmed report from media outlets in his homeland of Lativa states that the 20-year-old Edmonton Oilers farmhand has "disappeared without a trace" after reportedly jumping into a river.

There has been no cellphone contact with Pelss, who played for the Oilers' AHL and ECHL affiliates this season, since Monday. His family has not given up hoping that he will be found and the only hard information seems to be that the missing man has a 1992 birthdate.

As LETA was informed by State Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele, rescuers received a call at around 2:00 a.m. early Tuesday morning, that a man had jumped into the Daugava River. Arriving at the scene, rescuers only found the man's clothing. A search of the water was also unsuccessful.

Rescuers continued to search the water the next day with diving equipment, but did found nothing.

State Police Riga Region Department press representative Toms Sadovskis confirmed the incident, but will only make comments after the investigation. Sadovskis did admit that the police have a version who this person might be.

One of the versions is that this person might be a 1992-born male, whose relatives notified police of his disappearance earlier this week, Sadovskis said.

According to information obtained by LETA, Pelss had arrived in Latvia on Monday, but when LETA tried to contact him, his phone was switched off. (LETA)

Pelss had an up-and-down rookie pro season, playing 20 games for AHL Oklahoma City and 13 for ECHL Stockton, while earning a 21-game suspension for a slash.

Pelss, from Preili, Latvia, broke a three-year draft drought for his homeland when the Oilers took him in the seventh round (181st overall) in the 2010 draft. The Oil Kings, who are owned by the Oilers, took him in the import draft days later so he could adapt his hard-working, two-way game to North American hockey. That paid off with a 28-goal, 50-point season during the Oil Kings' championship campaign. Pelss was also integral for Latvia's national junior team. He took time out from his first WHL season to help Latvia win promotion to the 2012 world junior championship. At the 2012 WJC, he became a leader on a young team, helping it avoid relegation.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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