Photo Credit: Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com
Garret Sparks may have been the story of last night’s Leafs game, but he’s been making waves for quite some time before his NHL debut. For example, did you know that he spent the entirety of November ripping up the league below? The American Hockey League noticed, and today declared him their Goaltender of the Month for November.
From the AHL’s press release:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. The American Hockey League announced today that Garret Sparks of the Toronto Marlies has been selected as the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for November.
Sparks posted a record of 6-0-1 in seven AHL appearances on the month, allowing just nine goals on 188 shots while registering a 1.39 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage with two shutouts.
Sparks began the month with a 30-save shutout in Toronto’s 5-0 win at Hartford on Nov. 4. He made 32 stops as the Marlies earned a 5-4 shootout win at Utica on Nov. 6, and turned aside 34 of 35 shots in a 6-1 victory at Binghamton on Nov. 7. His perfect relief appearance on Nov. 14 helped the Marlies rally for a 9-8 overtime victory at St. John’s, and he earned a 1-0 OT shutout victory behind 23 saves at Rochester on Nov. 18. Sparks extended his shutout streak to 138 minutes, 6 seconds before allowing a goal late in a 5-1 win over Rochester on Nov. 21, the only blemish in a 31-save performance.
The month ended with Sparks making his National Hockey League debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 30 and stopping all 24 shots in a 3-0 win over Edmonton.
Sparks is 8-2-1 in 11 appearances for the Marlies this season, ranking fourth in the AHL with a 1.90 goals-against average and second with a .938 save percentage. Sparks, 22, was a seventh-round draft choice by the Maple Leafs in 2011, and has a record of 22-8-3 with a 2.30 GAA, a .924 save percentage and three shutouts in 37 career AHL games. The third-year pro from Elmhurst, Ill., was a member of the United States’ gold-medal team at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Sparks was a huge part of the Marlies’ push through their November road trip, bookending the run with a pair of shutouts. The seven-game run represented a huge bounceback from a loss to the Binghamton Senators in October that had many looking towards Antoine Bibeau as the Marlies starter moving forward.
Since the turnaround began, Sparks hasn’t looked back. His 0.938 SV% is second among goalies with 360+ minutes played in the AHL, and first among those who have played at least ten games. Sparks also won Player of the Week on November 9th, meaning this will be his second crystal trophy from the league this year. Depending on how long James Reimer takes to recover, though, it may be a while until he picks it up.