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Unsung Heroes… Monday night’s stars

December 2, 2015

On Monday night, two relatively unheralded guys played their first game in the big leagues – Brent Urban for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and Garret Sparks for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Both of their stories show the power of persevering and the truth that at any moment, one person can be an unexpected hero.

Brent Urban is a Canadian who grew up in Toronto and actually played Midget AAA hockey with a couple of the NHL’s recognizable future stars (eg. Ryan Ellis & Casey Czikas). However, his size led him to go south and play college football at Virginia. Though he was a second round pick in the CFL draft, he chose to take his chances in the NFL as a fourth round pick. He spent his whole first year (2014) on injured reserve due to a training camp knee injury. He played his first game November 30 on Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals. Urban’s hand blocked Cincinnati’s winning field goal that was subsequently returned for a touchdown and a stunning Baltimore win!  Watch the post-game video interview!

Earlier in the evening in Toronto, Elmhurst, Illinois native Garret Sparks started his first NHL game in net for the Maple Leafs against the Edmonton Oilers. Not only did he earn the victory in goal, he saved 24 shots for shutout. Like Urban, Sparks was a mid-round draft choice (7th round in 2011) who has slowly been working his way into and through the Leafs’ farm team, playing goal for their top minor league affiliate, the Marlies, for the past two seasons. He has had a measure of success at every level, though has never been projected as the “next great goaltender.” Yet on Monday night, his determination paid off as he became the 23rd goaltender in history to blank the opposition in his first NHL game.

Leaders: Don’t get discouraged. Perseverance pays off.

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