Sparks Sets Leafs Record With Shutout In NHL Debut
Garret Sparks, of GGSU Legends camp fame, was called up to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and made his first career NHL start on Monday night at home against the Edmonton Oilers.
To say it went well would be quite the understatement.
The rookie made 24 saves in a 3-0 win, becoming the first Maple Leafs goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout with the team in their NHL debut.
When Sparks was given that information after the game, he became overwhelmed with emotion. His parents in the stands, who were in Toronto to catch his debut, couldn’t contain their excitement either.
Sparks wasn’t tested extremely often, but was very calm and in control for most of the game. The few great chances that the Oilers were able to get were snuffed out quickly, and rebounds were kept to a minimum. He showed no signs of nervousness, which is odd for a goaltender making their NHL debut.
The first period contained a minor mishandle of the puck by his own defenceman that almost led to a scoring chance, and at one point Sparks even tripped over the net while trying to skate back to the crease. The fall wasn’t very graceful, but he sure made up for it with his smooth recovery!
James Reimer may be Optimus Reim, but Garret Sparks is an actual robot pic.twitter.com/UoAD3nvv94
— Greg Balloch (@GregBalloch) December 1, 2015
It’s hard not to be excited for a goaltender like Sparks who has paid his dues in the ECHL, had a terrific start with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL this year, and looks to be carrying over that play into the NHL.
Sparks also loves to pass his knowledge of the game down to others. He is known for helping run the GGSU Legends Camp in the offseason, alongside other notable names like Shannon Szabados, Scott Darling, and Mike Condon.
As an added bonus this past offseason, Sparks headed to Australia to partake in a charity tour in different AIHL cities to raise money for stopconcussions.com.
Hopefully this shutout is just one of many that will come in his career. It’s certainly one that he will never forget.