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Price: Gudlevskis had ‘one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen’

Feb 19, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT

Gudlevskis2 Getty Images

And so begins the legend of Kristers Gudlevskis.

Prior to the Olympics, few knew about the 21-year-old Latvian goalie plying his trade in the Tampa Bay organization. Heck, few even knew about Gudlevskis during the Olympics — veteran netminder Edgars Masalskis played the majority of Latvia’s games leading up to the quarterfinals, including Tuesday’s surprise defeat of Switzerland.

But on Wednesday, the hockey world was introduced to Gudlevskis as he stopped 55 of 57 shots in a tight loss to Canada.

“Their goaltender played awesome,” Carey Price said, per IIHF.com. “That was one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen in a long time. He played a heck of a game.”

Which begs the question — who is this guy?

Well, Gudlevskis has kicked around the Bolts organization this year, spending time in both the AHL and ECHL before getting called up to Tampa Bay just prior to the Olympic break, when he dressed as a backup. He was a fifth-round pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft that once played for a Latvian league team named HK Ogre (seriously) and, prior to the Olympics, had only represented the senior national team once before, at the 2013 Worlds.

Then came today’s breakthrough effort.

The 55-save epic was a single-game high for this tournament and one of the most dominant goaltending performances we’ve seen in recent Winter Games. Gudlevskis made 15 saves in the first, 19 in the second and 22 in the third — and it was during the third when fatigue began to show, as the Latvian trainer was summoned onto the ice to tend to Gudlevskis just prior to Shea Weber‘s eventual game-winning goal.

Following the game, the Latvian goalie tried to deflect praise to his teammates, but did acknowledge it was probably the best game he’d ever played.

“We did a great job, we tried. We left all our strength out there,” he said, per the Olympic News Service. “There is not enough. It was exciting and hard.

“The guys did such a great job the other night [versus Switzerland], and I just wanted to give them an opportunity to win today.”

In saying that, Gudlevskis did allow for a brief moment of introspection, conceding this was a huge moment in his career.

“This is the highest level we are going to play,” he explained. “This is even a higher level than NHL and, if you can play here, you can play everywhere. It really means a lot for me.”

  1. bucrightoff - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Almost went instant legend. A remarkable effort.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      All the ******* Canadians who were going on about how this would be lopsided and the Latvians had no chance etc…. can ***********… The Latvians had a couple of chances and if not for a late PP goal, might have forced it to overtime or won on a lucky break. The goalchie played great and made it possible that this could have been a huge upset.

      The Latvians showed the world that good coaching, systems, and goaltending can give you a chance to win.

      As i said before Getzlaf’s line deserves more icetime than Crosby’s line and Crosby himself. Only the lines that are playing well should be getting the majority of ice. Giving a guy time cuz of reputation is a joke which if it happens against the US will result in Canada going home like losers.

      • imleftcoast - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        A couple disallowed goals, but I do admire the Latvian team and that goaltending performance should be remembered for a long time.

        Kaptann, you’ve evidently forgotten the 2010 Olympics. Canada was certainly playing worse than this. But no matter who wins on Friday, you’re the only loser.

      • led65 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        Rightfully disallowed goals. I hope you aren’t complaining about that remarkable defensive play where the Latvian kept the puck from crossing the line. That was brilliant and an excellent call.

      • c9castine - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        yeah important part being disallowed, because they WERENT goals. get that straight spin doctor.

      • kaptaanamerica - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:12 PM

        As i said before, Canadians were acting like a bunch of blowhards about how Latvia would get stomped… turns out that wasn’t the case… I don’t particularly care what those Canadians have to say… likely the same kind of people who never give US hockey or fans any credit. Seems to me “imleftcoast” that you might be one of those Canadians. If you bothered to read and understand what I wrote you might realize the “losers” here are the Canadians who think they have some divine right to rule the hockey world.

        Times have changed and with the way the US is playing I wouldn’t be surprised if Kesler and company laid a beating on Canada IF Babcock thinks playing Crosby’s line ahead of Getzlaf’s is going to win anything when Crosby’s line hasn’t done anything so far. Keeping Crosby on the 1st unit PP when there’s a line that is motoring makes no sense.

        Not putting Subban in to make something happen 5-5 doesn’t make sense to me either. i’d put Subban and Hamhuis out there instead of bowmeester and pietrangelo.

      • dueman - Feb 20, 2014 at 1:58 AM

        Like leftcoast said “no matter who wins on Friday, you’re the only loser!”

      • kaptaanamerica - Feb 20, 2014 at 5:12 AM

        Dueman you and the other guy reminds me of all the rude and smug Canadians I’ve come across who expires hate towards Americans.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:12 AM

        kaptaanamurica,
        You’re just about the only blow hard here. Canadian are going to root for Canada just the same way Americans root for the USA. So what if a few Canadians thought Canada would dominate the game. If you actually watched it you’d see Canada DID dominate the game. They just could beat an incredibly hot goalie. You act like there aren’t american who do the same thing in support of the USA too.

        The more you cut and paste your lame argument to more you show off your inferiority complex about Canada. You reek of desperation, trying to make Canada and Canadians look bad. In the end all you did was make Americans look bad.

        Don’t worry, other American fans. Most Canadians are smart enough to not let a troll like KA speak for and represent the rest of you.

      • kaptaanamerica - Feb 20, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        @I’mleftcoast, you think it’s only a few Canadians who go on forums and boards hating on the U.S. and Americans? It happens all the time here on pht, or other hockey forums. Canadians were talking about a blowout btw, didn’t want to even hear about it being close…. I gave a warning that Canada might lose, Canadians gave a lot of hot air in return… the way you spelled my username just shows your mentality…

    • blomfeld - Feb 19, 2014 at 10:53 PM

      I take it that Price is not familiar with Tretiak’s New Years Eve performance back in ’75 ?

  2. smarshall3789 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    What a game he had Stevie y might be bringing you to Tampa sooner then later

    • stepanup - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      Kid will probably fetch some serious trade value, seeing as how Tampa already has a breakout star goalie in Bishop. Looking at you, Long Island.

      • led65 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        He’d be a better backup than Lindback and is cheaper plus under control longer. So, I highly doubt he would be the one traded. Especially considering the fact that Bishop has been hurt, often, as of late. I can’t see how Stevie Y would feel more comfortable with Lindback being the next man up when he has what under an .880 save percentage this year and has been a disappointment since Tampa traded for him. The isles can have Anders we will keep Gud thank you very much.

      • 19to77 - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        True point. A few years of Bishop/Gudlevskis would be no bad thing. Lindback needs to go anyway. He’s a weak point on an otherwise remarkably impressive Lightning roster.

      • pfhockey - Feb 19, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        We have Bishop, Vasilevski, and Gudlevskis now. We’re set now. We can move Lindback for sure, let Gudlevski backup next year while letting Vasy start for the AHL.

      • led65 - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        I’m excited to see how Vasilevski turns out. He appears to have the highest ceiling of them all if he develops how they project.

    • pfhockey - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Once he becomes consistent, he’ll move Lindback for sure.

  3. brotherlove2012 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    They have problems scoring goals and meanwhile the Norris trophy winner (even if he’s contreversial) is not playing, even if that Norris trophy winner is reknown for his offensive game. Go figure! And please spare the bull**** about Subban not playing good defense, that is not true. He maybe lacking discipline but not defensive skills. In a tournament of this caliber, Subban would play disciplined for sure. If he doesn’t, then you scratch him off. I guess Hamhuis has “more” olympic experience … Lol

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Feb 19, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      Offense from the defense is NOT a problem Canada has right now. Subban’s not really needed.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 20, 2014 at 12:30 AM

      Hamhuis and Subban are opposite shots (Left hamhuis and right Subban). If anything Subban would have to replace one of Doughty, Pietrangelo, or Weber… Canada has no better Left handed option than Hamhuis who isn’t on this team already. In fact, i’d venture to say that Jay Bo is actually the 4th best left handed dman on this squad.

      for people who think Seabrook should be on the team, need to get a clue.

      The team Canada brass wanted an even number of guys shooting left and right.

  4. sens101 - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    Subban isn\t playing because he turns the puck over too often, and if that were to happen at the wrong time in a game like the one today, we would be talking about the greatest upset in hockey history…..Subban is good offensively, but too much of a defensive liability to trust in tight hockey games. With that being said, I have no idea why Hamuis is on this team. Can think of a few better options who could have been picked.

    • pfhockey - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      Like Seabiscuit?

    • vanindeed - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      Hamhuis is on the team because he’s not “too much of a defensive liability to trust in tight hockey games.” Would be my guess. Vlasic too.

  5. mendenhallfumblemachine - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Wins a win

  6. djshnooks - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Don’t lose sight of the fact that his teammates had 20+ blocked shots and probably 20+ hits…it was an amazing all around effort.

    Certainly the characteristics of a Ted Nolan team.

    This kid and Girgensons are gonna be special.

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