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Bolts Prospect Spotlight: Kristers Gudlevskis

by Doug Spencer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Second year Syracuse Crunch goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis has been known to pick up his play when the chips are down. Gudlevskis recently led the Crunch to a 3-0-0 weekend in which he won both of his starts. He capped off the weekend by shutting the door on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a 29-save shutout performance.

Gudlevskis has been quietly making a name for himself after bursting onto the scene at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he almost single-handedly led tournament underdog Latvia to a massive upset of perennial powerhouse Team Canada. The high-profiled Canadian offense fired a remarkable 57 shots, most of them from high-quality areas of the offensive zone, and Gudlevskis turned 55 of them aside in a 2-1 losing effort. It was seen as the goaltending performance of the tournament and one that really brought the young Latvian into the spotlight.

The Lightning selected the 6-foot-4, 190-pound goaltender in the fifth round, 124th overall, of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He is a very athletic goaltender who uses his large frame to cut down the angles.

The Aizkraukle, Latvia, native is in his second season playing in North America. His season was highlighted by making his regular season NHL debut April 11 at Amalie Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He stopped 38 shots to record his first NHL win. Gudlevskis also saw time in two postseason games, starting in the Bolts’ final playoff game and recording a .941 save percentage.

The Latvian wunderkind spent the majority of the 2013-14 season with the Bolts’ top affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. There he went 18-11-4 with five shutouts. Gudlevskis starred in 11 games in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades, posting an impressive record of 7-4-0 with two shutouts.

Before coming to North America, Gudlevskis spent time in the Dynamo Riga system. During the 2012-13 season, he started two games with the Dynamo Riga senior team in the Kontinental Hockey League, where he went 1-1-0 with a 2.18 goals-against average. He then skated in 56 games for the HK Riga Jr. team, recording three shutouts and a 2.09 goals-against average.

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