The Orlando Solar Bears clearly believe the theory that you can’t have enough of a good thing. On Tuesday, December 1st, Orlando signed backstop Garret Sparks who will join Michael Lackey and Clint Windsor in the goaltending regime.
Sparks re-joins the Solar Bears hockey club after spending four seasons in the National Hockey League. Prior to that, he played parts of three seasons in the ECHL from 2013-2016. During that time, the goaltender shined, as he owned a record of 26-13-3.
Adding to that record six shutouts, Sparks held a goals-against-average of 2.42 and a .933 save percentage. During the 2014-15 season, Sparks set several single season team records, including save percentage (.936), shutouts (5), goals against average (2.34) and wins (21). Only the wins record has been broken since.
Following a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Sparks spent 2019-20 in Paradise, Nevada with the Vegas Golden Knights. While with them, he made 26 appearances with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League.
There, he compiled a record of 8-14-4 while also posting two shutouts. This included a .908 save percentage and a GAA of 2.75. While under contract with Vegas, he also appeared one game with the Golden Knights. On November 30th, 2015, Sparks made his NHL debut, becoming the second former Solar Bear to accomplish this feat.
He would go on to blank the Edmonton Oilers in a 3-0 win at Scotiabank Arena. As such, he became Toronto’s first goaltender to record a shutout in his NHL debut. In 38 career NHL games, Sparks owns a 14-8-2 record, these statistics shared between Toronto and Vegas.
Sparks, 27-years-old, has mostly appeared at the AHL level. The backstop owns a sparkling record of 88-42-13 in 147 games. While racking up 17 shutouts, Sparks owns a .924 save percentage and a GAA of 2.24.
With an incredible 1.79 GAA, Sparks helped lead the Toronto Marlies to a Calder Cup championship in 2017-18. He would also win the Aldege Bastein Memorial Award for the league’s best goalie, recording 31 wins. As well, the Illinois native achieved a save percentage of .936.
The Solar Bears now have the same three headed monster, dare I say, “problem” that the New York Rangers saw last season with their threesome of Henrik Lundqvist, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. Orlando now heads into the season with last season’s No. 1 in Clint Windsor, perhaps their all time greatest goaltender in Garret Sparks and the talented rookie in Michael Lackey.
Orlando has a triple threat between the pipes that will eliminate the drop off in talent behind Clint Windsor from last season. Without a doubt, the Solar Bears have addressed a huge need from 2019-20 for 2020-21. If Orlando is able to find their scoring touch, a lot of teams may be chasing them in the ECHL standings come puck drop in December.