Solar Bears Sign Garret Sparks
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Solar Bears have announced the club has agreed to terms with goaltender Garret Sparks on an ECHL Standard Player Contract for the 2020-21 season.
Sparks, 27, played the 2019-20 season under contract with the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights, primarily with the club's former American Hockey League affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. He went 8-14-4 in 26 appearances with Chicago while recording two shutouts, a 2.75 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. He also appeared in one game for the Golden Knights.
The 6-foot-3, 201-pound goaltender has played the entirety of his ECHL career with Orlando over parts of three seasons from 2013-16, appearing in 47 contests and owning a record of 26-13-3 with six shutouts, a 2.42 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. During the 2014-15 season, Sparks' .936 save percentage led the ECHL and set a franchise single-season record, while the goaltender also established franchise single-season marks for shutouts (5), goals-against average (2.34) and wins (21; since broken).
Sparks became the second former Solar Bears player to reach the NHL when he made his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 30, a 3-0 blanking of the Edmonton Oilers, becoming the first goaltender in Maple Leafs history to record a shutout in his NHL debut. He owns a 14-8-2 record in 38 career NHL appearances between Toronto and Vegas, along with two shutouts, a 3.10 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage.
Sparks has spent the bulk of his pro career in the AHL, going 88-42-13 in 147 career appearances with 17 shutouts, a 2.24 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. During the 2017-18 season, Sparks was named to the league's First All-Star Team and selected as the Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award recipient as the league's best goaltender during the regular season while leading the circuit 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.
Orlando Solar Bears 2020 Training Camp Roster (as of Dec. 1, 2020):
Abbandonato, Peter [SYR]
Alvaro, Matt [R]
Crawford, Isaiah [R-TO]
Gilmour, Alexander [R]
Hope, Kylar [R]
Johnson, Stephen [R]
Pavlychev, Nikita [R-SYR]
Piotrowski, J.M. [R-TO]
Skinner, Ethan [R-TO]
McInnis, Luke [R]
Meyer, Paul [R]
Stephens, Devante [SYR]
Lackey, Michael [R]
Windsor, Clint [SYR]
[R] = Rookie
[V] = Veteran
[TO] = Tryout
[SYR] = Syracuse Crunch contract
The Solar Bears open the 2020-21 season, presented by XYMOPrint, on the road against the Florida Everblades on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. Orlando's first home game of the 2020-21 season will be played at the AdventHealth Rink at Amway Center on Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.
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