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Solar Bears Goaltender Garret Sparks Recalled by Springfield Thunderbirds

Thursday, March 16th
Solar Bears Goaltender Garret Sparks Recalled by Springfield Thunderbirds

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Solar Bears goaltender Garret Sparks has been recalled by the Springfield Thunderbirds, American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the National Hockey League's (NHL) St. Louis Blues, Solar Bears Head Coach and General Manager Matt Carkner announced today.

Sparks, 29, has appeared in 13 games this season for the Solar Bears, posting a 7-3-3-0 record, with a 3.48 goals against average (GAA) and a .884 save percentage (SV%).

The 6-foot-3, 201-pound native of Elmhurst, Illinois spent the 2021-22 season under contract with the Los Angeles Kings, playing the bulk of the time with the Club’s American Hockey League Affiliate, Ontario Reign. He went 5-5-0-0 with a 3.25 goals-against average (GAA) and a .896 save percentage (SV%). 

Sparks has played the entirety of his ECHL career with the Solar Bears over parts of four seasons from 2013-2020, appearing in 66 games and owning a record of 37-17-7 with six shutouts, a 2.60 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. During the 2014-15 season, Sparks’ .936 save percentage led the entire ECHL and set an ECHL Solar Bears single-season record. 

Sparks was the second Solar Bears player to reach the NHL when he made his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 30th, 2015, blanking the Edmonton Oilers 3-0, becoming the first goaltender in Maple Leafs history to earn a shutout in their NHL debut. Sparks has appeared in 40 NHL games, posting a record of 15-18-2, a 3.06 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. 

Sparks has spent the bulk of his pro career in the AHL, going 98-57-13 in 175 career appearances with 17 shutouts, a 2.34 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. During the 2017-18 season, Sparks was named to the league’s First All-Star Team and selected as the Aldege Bastien Memorial Award recipient as the league’s best goaltender during the regular season while leading the AHL in wins (31), goals-against average (1.79) and save percentage (.936) before helping lead the Marlies to the Calder Cup championship. 

Prior to turning pro, the Elmhurst, Ill. native played major junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League with the Guelph Storm, where he went 71-48-9 in 138 appearances with 12 shutouts, a 2.97 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. 

The American has also represented his country on the international stage, serving as the third netminder for the United States squad at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Russia, winning gold. 

Sparks was a seventh-round selection (#190 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. 

NEXT GAMES: The Solar Bears host the Maine Mariners for their only trip to AdventHealth Rink at Amway Center on Wednesday, March 22. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. 

Orlando welcomes the Jacksonville Icemen back to AdventHealth Rink at Amway Center on Friday, March 24. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m.

2022-23 Season Presented by Janney Roofing: The 2022-23 Orlando Solar Bears season is presented by Janney Roofing. Voted Orlando’s Best Roofer by Orlando Weekly, Janney Roofing is a family-founded and family-operated company built on honesty, quality and integrity. Get your free quote today at janneyroofing.com.

About the Orlando Solar Bears:The Orlando Solar Bears are the proud affiliate of the NHL’s Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and members of the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America. In 10 seasons of operation, the team has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs five times. The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family, and play at the AdventHealth Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.

Officially licensed Orlando Solar Bears replica team jerseys, apparel, and headwear can be purchased at orlandosolarbearshockey.com/shop.

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