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Guelph Storm’s Garret Sparks stirs up General frustration: Friday’s 3 Stars

Garret Sparks has been the game's first star in 2 of his past 4 games (OHL Images)

No. 1 star: Garret Sparks, Guelph Storm (OHL)

The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect played traffic cop and thief concurrently for Guelph, stopping 44-of-45 shots in an internationally televised 4-1 win over the Oshawa Generals. In one of his best performances of the season, Sparks was the main reason the Storm had a chance to come back in the final period. He stoned fellow Leafs pick (and fellow Team USA hopeful) Tyler Biggs from point-blank range and stopped at least a dozen redirected shots. The 19-year-old also made a sprawling save on Chris Carlisle with two minutes left that kept Oshawa from pulling within a goal.

"Oshawa threw a lot of people in front on those power plays, but I like to be physical in front and keep my area under control," Sparks said afterward at the Sleeman Centre. "The last two games I've had here at home, I've got pulled ... It was nice to come here and put the best game I could out there."

No. 2 star: Sam Bennett, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Some rookies might get consider it a good night if they got three scoring chances against the trap-happy Brampton Battalion. The gritty Bennett had three of the eight points accounted by the Kingston trio of 16-year-olds, helping the Frontenacs beat the Battalion 6-3. Bennett (2G-1A, +3), Spencer Watson (2G, +4) and defenceman Roland McKeown (3A, +2) were all in on the first Fronts goal. A period later, Bennett scored twice in fewer than three minutes, burying a partial breakaway before chased Brampton goalie Matej Machovsky by scoring again.

No. 3 star: Jay Merkley, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

The 'Cane Train gathered steam thanks to the all-sophomore line of Merkley (2G, +2) and wings Craig Leverton (2A, +3) and Jamal Watson (2A, +3), who combined on a two goals in a 5-2 rivalry-game win over the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Hurricanes, who are 6-2-1-1 in their past 10 games, got out to an early two-goal lead over the Tigers in the Southern Alberta derby (English soccer impressions are okay since the Hurricanes are the team that once offered free season tickets to Will and Kate). The Merkley-Leverton-Watson line then went to work, as the 17-year-old Merkley scored goals exactly three minutes apart early in the second period to help decide the issue early. It was the Calgary native's first multi-goal game this season.

Honourable mention: Brent Pedersen, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

The Rangers' 5-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires was also sparked by scoring from their 17-year-old forwards. Pedersen ended his 12-game goal drought with two third-period tallies that sealed the win, as he and Justin Bailey (1G-1A, +2) and Josh Sterk (3A, +1) combined for seven points.

Honourable mention: Christopher Clapperton, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)

The shifty 18-year-old sniped a hat trick to help B-B get by the host P.E.I. Rocket 6-5 in a wild and woolly tilt between two of the Quebec League's top teams. (The Armada played the last 2 1/2 periods without captain Xavier Ouellet, who was ejected for a check from behind that could draw a suspension.)

The Armada dug itself an early hole, but never trailed again after Clapperton (3G, +3) tipped in a game-tying goal in the second period. That was his second of the game; his hatty tally with 9:31 to play opened a 5-2 margin that was offered the Armada just enough room to hang on for the win. Samuel Hodhod (1G-1A, +2) also scored the eventual game-winning goal with 2:18 left.

Honourable mention: Valentin Zykov, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

The Drakkar deserve mention for crunching Chicoutimi 7-1 while coach Éric Veilleux was grieving the passing of his father, Michel Veilleux. The 17-year-old Zykov had three points, including two goals in the opening period that helped sink Chicoutimi early.

Honourable mentions: Daniel Catenacci and Gemel Smith, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

Catenacci (2G-2A, +3) and Smith (who also had that statline) took ownership when the Attack were flirting with losing a first-vs.-worst game against the Erie Otters. Catenacci, the 19-year-old Buffalo Sabres pick, and Smith, an 18-year-old Dallas Stars choice, each factored into Owen Sound's last four goals. That stretch included Catenacci burying the game-winner just 65 seconds after an equalizer by Erie's 15-year-old phenom Connor McDavid (1G-1A). McDavid ran his OHL-best point streak to 15 games.

Potent notables — St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie had three points in Portland's win over Victoria ... The Brandon Wheat Kings' Corbin Boes stopped 40-of-42 shots to beat Moose Jaw ... In the OHL, Spencer Martin's 30-save night in Mississauga's 4-1 win over Peterborough moved him into top spot in average (1.90) and save percentage (.941) ...  Tampa Bay Lightning selection Tanner Richard, 19, increased his assist streak to 12 by getting two third-period helpers for Guelph ... Colorado Avalanche pick Garrett Meurs, the pride of Ripley, Ont., got his fourth game-winning goal in the past two weeks, helping Plymouth shade Sarnia 3-2. Three of those game-winners have been in 2-1 or 3-2 games ... Minnesota Wild pick Tyler Graovac has a league-best 16 goals in as many games after tallying twice in Ottawa's 6-1 romp at Sault Ste. Marie ... London Knights rookie D Miles Liberati scored his first major junior goal against NHL first-rounder Malcolm Subban ... In the QMJHL, 17-year-old Adam Erne (3G, +1) had his second hat trick in the past three Quebec Remparts games. Buffalo Sabres first-rounder Mikhail Grigorenko had four assists in the 8-3 win at Baie-Comeau, who beat Quebec 8-2 in their prior meeting ... Fifteen Moncton Wildcats got on the scoresheet in their 11-2 shellacking of undermanned Shawinigan, led by overager Allain Saulnier's hat trick plus two assists ... Saint John overage D Kevin Gagné was plus-6 in a 6-2 win over Cape Breton ... Val-d'Or Foreurs defender Matt Murphy, 17, was plus-5 and had his fourth multi-point game this season in a 6-4 win at Victoriaville.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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