GARRET SPARKS - Head Instructor, Toronto Maple Leafs
Garret Sparks is one individual who needs no introduction. However, there’s more to the familiar face than what most people know.
The Illinois native played for the Chicago Mission of the Tier 3 Elite Hockey League before joining the Guelph Storm in 2010. Sparks started in 19 games for the Storm, finishing the 2010-11 season with a record of 8-6-1 and a save percentage of .890. In addition to his stellar numbers with Guelph, Sparks competed in the 2012-13 World Junior Championships in Russia, where the United States U20 team took home the gold medal. “Team USA is something I never thought I’d be a part of,” says Sparks. “It’s something you dream about.”
It wasn’t the only dream come true for the 18 year old; his time with the Storm caught the eye of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who drafted him in the 7th round 190th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. After splitting time between Leafs’ AHL and ECHL affiliates throughout the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, the then 22 year old made his NHL debut on Monday, November 28 against the Edmonton Oilers. Prior to his debut, Sparks had a win record of 8-2-1 in 11 games with the Marlies, a 1.90 GAA and a save percentage of .938 - second best in the AHL. The Leafs’ rookie made 24 stops and blanked the Oilers, becoming the first goalie in Toronto history to record a shutout in his NHL debut.
Following such a historic first appearance in a Leafs jersey, Sparks appeared in 16 more games for the Toronto, accumulating wins against teams like the St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks. But despite the sudden stardom, Sparks never lost sight of the things he valued off the ice.
His involvement in GGSU started in 2013 when a friend of his made him an admin, and since then he has devoted most of his free time to building a community around one common theme: to “continue to bring goalies around the world together.”