Article written by Aaron Goldstein - Community Contributor
Goalie Analysis: Kristers Gudlevskis
On Wednesday afternoon, Team Canada faced Team Latvia in what was expected to be a straightforward victory for the Canadians. The result was a 2-1 win, and a date with the United States in the Semifinals. But this was everything but straightforward win for Canada, thanks to Kristers Gudlevskis. The 6 foot 4 Latvian goaltender who spends his time with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League had the game of a lifetime.
Gudlevskis came into this game with nothing to lose. He was hungry for pucks, and that showed in his game today. He was playing very ‘loud’ in the net right from the get-go, a trait I personally love seeing in goalies, especially those who have that raw athleticism to help balance their game out over the course of 60 minutes.
Over the course of this game I was extremely impressed with Gudlevskis’ ability to continue following the play, and tracking every puck that came off his body. That may seem obvious, but considering the bombardment he faced today against Canada, it was quite the accomplishment. He battled for a full 60 minutes, making save after save. Sure, some might have been unorthodox, but it worked.
Throughout this game Gudlevskis also did a great job of staying aggressive, and not sitting back on his goal line. This tactic allowed Gudlevskis to use that big body to his advantage, so he could establish the necessary net presence to defend against the Canadian offence. One example of this was on Carter’s one-timer after a quick pass from behind the net. Gudlevskis, already down in a RVH (Reverse Vertical Horizontal position), realizes the threat and quickly makes a tiny adjustment to get out, and square up to the shooter. Gudlevskis’ upper body stayed tall to take up space, and no rebound was given.
Here is a quick breakdown of that save sequence during today’s Canada-Latvia game:
When everything was said and done, Gudlevskis finished with a total of 55 saves against Canada in this thrilling (and very nerve-racking) quarterfinal matchup. Here’s a shot summary by period: Gudlevskis made 15 saves in the 1st, 19 saves in the 2nd, and 21 saves in the 3rd and final period.
For a lot of people this is what the Olympic games are all about, taking unknowns and making them household names overnight. That was especially true in this case. If you didn’t know of Kristers Gudlevskis before today, you sure do now.
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