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Photos: Christian Bonin, Graig Abel

Marlies’ Sparks, Pickard win Hap Holmes Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard of the Toronto Marlies are the recipients of the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award for the 2017-18 season. Since 1972, the award has been presented to the goaltender(s) with at least 25 games played on the team which allows the fewest goals per game in the regular season.

The Marlies allowed an average of 2.24 goals per game in 2017-18 en route to capturing the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s overall regular-season champions with a record of 54-18-2-2 (112 points, .737). Toronto finished with the fewest goals against in the AHL for the second time in team history (2011-12).

Sparks, the Baz Bastien Award winner as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender for 2017-18, was 31-9-2 in 43 appearances for the Marlies while leading the league in wins (tied), goals-against average (1.79) and save percentage (.936) and ranking second in shutouts (six).

Pickard, acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade with Vegas on Oct. 6, 2017, went 21-9-2 in 33 games for the Marlies in 2017-18, with a 2.31 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and one shutout.

The Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award, which was first awarded in 1948 to the goaltender with the best goals-against average in the AHL, is named for Hockey Hall of Famer Harry “Hap” Holmes, a prominent figure in early professional hockey and an outstanding goaltender of his time. Previous winners or co-winners of the award include Gil Mayer (1951, ’53, ’54, ’55, ’56), Johnny Bower (1957, ’58), Marcel Paille (1961, ’62), Gerry Cheevers (1965), Gilles Villemure (1969, ’70), Pete Peeters (1979), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Clint Malarchuk (1983), Vincent Riendeau (1987, ’88), Corey Hirsch (1993), Olaf Kolzig (1994), Byron Dafoe (1994), Mike Dunham (1995), Manny Legace (1996), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1998), Martin Biron (1999), Cory Schneider (2009), Matt Murray (2015), Peter Budaj (2016), Tristan Jarry (2017) and Casey DeSmith (2017).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway Thursday.