ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The kid is all right.
Garret Sparks made 23 saves in his AHL debut to help the Toronto Marlies defeat the St. John's IceCaps 4-2 in AHL action Saturday night.
Stuart Percy, Spencer Abbott, Kenny Ryan and Greg Scott scored for Toronto (40-21-9), while Eric O'Dell had both St. John's (29-34-6) goals.
Sparks said he was nervous in the start, but happy to get the opportunity.
"I was kind of nervous heading into it. Coach gave me a chance and I didn't want to let him down. It was just good to get out there and play with the guys and get used to the pace."
He said he settled down early in the game, and that it was a relatively "easy" one for him.
"Strangely enough it was when they scored their first goal and I was like, 'it was not that bad, let's not do it again, but I survived.' The guys made it relatively easy, they played well in front of me."
O'Dell opened the scoring when he tipped in a shot at 3:27 of the first period. It was his 27th goal of the season. Sparks said he did not have much chance with the tip.
"He tipped it well. He tipped it down and it hit the ice and bounced back up. You either get your body in front of it or you're not stopping it."
The IceCaps' lead was short-lived when Percy tied it for the Marlies just two minutes later on the power play.
Toronto broke the game open early in the second period with goals from Abbott and Ryan 67 seconds apart.
IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge said the second period saw St. John's getting bogged down, unable to keep up any sustained pressure against Toronto.
"We were unable to get out of our own zone. When you spend a minute or a minute-fifteen in your zone, and you finally get possession to break it out, chances are you're chipping it to the goal line and you've got to change."
St. John's pressed the Marlies in the third period, but Sparks, who played 59 games this season with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, stood tall in his professional debut.
O'Dell cut the margin to 3-2 at 18:54 of the third period with his second goal of the game. Scott sealed the win for the Marlies with an empty net goal at 19:52.
McCambridge said the Marlies outplayed them and deserved the win.
"We lost the game to a good team."
Eddie Pasquale made 30 saves for the IceCaps, who were 0 for 2 on the power play.
The Marlies were 1 for 3 with the man advantage.