No protection necessary.
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 Crunch—the Lightning’s affiliate—in the second round.