Maple Leafs prospect Garret Sparks showed Sunday why he was named the AHL’s most outstanding goalie this season.
Late in the first period of the Toronto Marlies’ deciding Game 5 against the Utica Comets, Sparks made a pair of stunning stops on a 2-on-1 opportunity. For the first, Sparks lunged across the goalmouth to make a blocker save but he lost his blocker in the process and was forced to save the rebound opportunity with his bare hand.
“You realize it’s a do-or-die game with a 1–0 lead and you get in front of the puck,” Sparks told reporters after the game. “It’s all you can do. All you can do is not give up on a play and give yourself an opportunity to make a save.”
Sparks had a rough go of it in Games 3 and 4, allowing eight goals on 27 shots but he recorded a 37-save shutout in Game 5. The Marlies will now face the Syracuse Crush—the Lightning’s affiliate—in the second round.