On Wednesday the world saw a relative unknown put in one of the best performances ever seen by a goaltender at the Olympic Games, as Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis turned away 55 of 57 Canadian shots and gave his team a chance for an upset against the defending Olympic Gold Medalists.
The performance came in front of Canadian general manager Steve Yzerman, who also happens to be the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who own Gudlevskis NHL rights, as they drafted him in the fifth round, 124th overall in the 2013 NHL draft. Gudlevskis has spent the season backing up Cedrick Desjardins on Tampa’s AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch. He has also spent time with the team’s ECHL affiliate the Florida Everblades.
On two ocassions this year Gudlevskis has been called up to the Lightning due to injuries to both Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback, but on both occassions it was Desjardins who got the NHL playing time, and it appeared that Gudlevskis was fourth on the Lightning depth chart.
However, that has now changed, as the team has announced that Gudlevskis will be reporting to Tampa Bay, and not Syracuse when he returns from Sochi. Lindback is still dealing with injury issues suffered before the Olympic break, and it appears that Gudlevskis has passed Desjardins on the depth chart. After the heroic performance against a team of NHL All-Stars, he’s certainly earned the opportunity.
Gudlevskis is 11-8-2 with a 2.69 GAA and .900 save percentage with the Crunch this season.
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