Hockey

Gustavo Garcia - Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014 23:27 ET

Latvian goalie makes 55 saves in loss to Canada: Day 12 Newsmaker

Kristers Gudlevskis’s performance impresses hockey world

Latvia's goalkeeper Kristers Gudlevskis makes a save against Canada in Sochi on February 19, 2014.
Latvia's goalkeeper Kristers Gudlevskis makes a save against Canada in Sochi on February 19, 2014. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

The Latvian goalie’s performance in the quarter-final match against Canada on Wednesday in Sochi was as unexpected as how close he kept the game.

Team Canada outshot Latvia 57-16, but could only score twice for a tight and surprising 2-1 win.

The reason the best hockey team in the world managed only two goals against a much weaker opponent?

Kristers Gudlevskis.

The 21-year-old wasn’t even supposed to start the game at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, but was given the nod after Edgars Masalskis was ruled out due to fatigue.

The outcome? Well, not perfect – Latvia couldn’t pull off the upset – but very close.

The netminder had 55 saves, and held a far superior Canadian team to just one goal until very late in the third period.

"That was one of the best goaltending efforts I think I've ever seen," said Canadian goaltender Carey Price after the game. High praise, but not enough to please Gudlevskis.

"We were disappointed," he said after the game. "We tried to make a miracle today and we just couldn't do it."

Gudlevskis, who plays for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, was drafted 124th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013 and has not been part of an NHL game yet.

But with performances like this it’s only a matter of time before he gets the call.

Win-win situation

Speaking of getting the call, the man responsible for drafting the Lightning goalie was also at the game on Wednesday.

Team Canada’s executive director Steve Yzerman is also Tampa Bay’s general manager. And Stevie-Y got to see what the talented prospect has to offer.

The Latvian goalie will be looking forward to speaking with Yzerman once the Olympics are over.

What would he say to his GM the next time they meet?

“You’re lucky.”

(With files from The Associated Press & Tim Wharnsby)

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