Advertisement
  1. Lightning

Meet Kristers Gudlevskis, Lightning's third goalie

Kristers Gudlevskis drew worldwide attention during the 2014 Olympics for his 55 saves in a loss to Canada. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Kristers Gudlevskis drew worldwide attention during the 2014 Olympics for his 55 saves in a loss to Canada. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Jun. 13, 2015

BRANDON — Kristers Gudlevskis learned long ago that goalies must be ready at all times.

So when Lightning coaches told him before Wednesday's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final that starter Ben Bishop was too injured to play against the Blackhawks, he prepared himself as Andrei Vasilevskiy's backup, knowing he was only one injury away from playing his first NHL game in 14 months.

"I'm practicing every day for moments like that," said Gudlevskis (pronounced Good-lev-skees).

Gudlevskis has faced high-pressure situations before. The 22-year-old Latvian drew worldwide attention during the 2014 Olympics for his 55-save performance in a 2-1 quarterfinal loss to eventual gold medalist Canada.

When Bishop was hurt during the Lightning's playoff run last year, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound prospect became Anders Lindback's backup and appeared in two of the Lightning's four playoff games.

"I can tell myself all the time, I've been on this stage," Gudlevskis said. "I know I can do this."

But Gudlevskis has played in only three NHL games, and none since last year's first-round playoff sweep by the Canadiens.

Gudlevskis shared time with Vasilevskiy in AHL Syracuse this season, posting a 25-14-0 record with a 2.81 goals-against average. He was using a Syracuse Crunch duffel bag Friday to store his gear after practice.

With Bishop's status uncertain Friday, Gudlevskis didn't know what his role would be today. If Bishop is out, Gudlevskis could be on the ice for warmups again. If Bishop is in, he could be watching far from the net again, as he did for the series' first three games.

"It's part of goalie life, right?" Gudlevskis said. "You never know."