Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis is having a season to remember between the pipes. When the puck dropped he was between the pipes for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. He was off the map and no one outside of Tampa had heard his name. However, he now could be the goaltender responsible for jumpstarting the Lightning playoff hopes.
However, Kristers Gudlevskis story doesn’t just end in the playoffs, far from it. If the last name Gudlevskis sounds familiar you may have heard it from the semi-final match against Team Canada in Sochi, where team Latvia led by head coach Ted Nolan nearly upset the favourited Canadians. He stopped 55 of 57 shots and fell just short of the biggest upset in Olympic hockey history. While few knew where Gudlevskis came from it turns out he is a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lighting Drafted the Latvian goaltender in the 5th round of the 2013 draft and assigned him to the ECHL after he failed to crack the Lightning roster. He went 7-4-0 with a league leading 1.84 GAA during his time in the ECHL.
In addition to his time spent in the ECHL and at the Olympics for Latvia, Kristers Gudlevskis has suited up for both the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch and the Tampa Bay Lighting. Not a bad season for a no-name goaltender who nearly upset Canada. In fact, for his efforts this season Kristers Gudlevskis becomes the first play to play for the ECHL, AHL, Olympics and NHL all in one season. I wonder if he get’s frequent flyer points!
Gudlevskis got the opportunity to play for the Lighting earlier in the season due to injuries to Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback on April 11th. Now due to an injury to Bishop and poor play from Linback, there is a strong possibility the Lightning will go with the Latvian for their next game in Montreal.
While his style differs from an NHL starter and he is far off from becoming an aforementioned NHL starter, Kristers Gudlevskis has had one heck of a 2013-2014 season. He showed the world what he is capable of at the Olympics and now he’s showing the Lightning that he could be a solid back-up plan should they need one.