Monday, 30 November 2015

He's A Solid Goalie

I was lucky enough to see Garret Sparks play before he wrote his name into the Maple Leafs' record book tonight. Granted, it wasn't live and in-person, but I watched the highlights of Sparks stonewalling the Manitoba Moose in the second game of the AHL season this year. Sparks stopped 27 of 29 shots in regulation time before stopping four shootout shots in his season debut with the Marlies, but he looked very solid in earning his first AHL win of the season. Who would have thought he'd be part of Maple Leafs' history two months later?

I'm just going to post this video here. Sparks, after shutting out the Oilers in his debut with the Maple Leafs, is informed of his record-setting feat and he's simply overcome with emotion.
First off, classy move by Sparks to hand the first-star stick over the boards and ensure the young man was the recipient of the stick. That little boy will cherish that stick for a long time before he even comes to the realization that it came from a guy who set a record tonight.

How great is it, though, to see Sparks overcome by emotion after finding out that he's now a part of history? Sparks, as you may not know, decided to recommit himself to his position after finding himself in Orlando with the ECHL's Solar Bears last season. He gave up sweets and junk food in the off-season, worked his butt off to get in better shape by dropping 25 pounds, and now he's the starting netminder for the Maple Leafs until James Reimer returns or Jonathan Bernier finds his game.

Not bad, right?

There's a good chance that Sparks starts in Winnipeg on Wednesday, and it will be the first time that a goaltender has had the opportunity to defeat both Winnipeg-based clubs in the same season. While that record is surely one that won't be remembered as fondly as the one set tonight, there aren't many goalies who can claim to have beaten the same city in two leagues in the same season.

We'll see what happens on Wednesday.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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