International Ice Hockey Federation

Rookie at 33

Rookie at 33

Zepp oldest goalie to win NHL debut since 1926

Published 22.12.2014 18:28 GMT+1 | Author Martin Merk
Rookie at 33
Seven months after playing his third IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Rob Zepp also played his first NHL game and earned a win as a 33-year-old. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
It’s never too late to play your first NHL game. Just ask 33-year-old Rob Zepp.

The Canada-born netminder who represented Germany in three IIH F Ice Hockey World Championships was called up to play his first game for the Philadelphia Flyers last night and scored a win.

Zepp spent the last nine years playing hockey in Europe, two seasons in Finland and seven for Eisbaren Berlin in Germany, before accepting an offer from the Philadelphia Flyers to return to North America. He was called up after Steve Mason’s injury and got the start in Sunday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Winning the game 4-3 in overtime with 25 saves was not only a milestone for Zepp but inspired also the statisticians. The 33-year-old became the second-oldest goalkeeper to win his first NHL game. Only one goalkeeper was older in his victorious NHL debut. Hugh Lehman was even 41 when he played his first game for the Chicago Blackhawks back in 1926.

“As calm as you try to be, when you wait this long and you get out on the ice, I'm not going to lie I didn't feel like myself in the first 10 minutes,” Zepp told the Associated Press.

“And it was a little complicated too because (the Jets) were flying out there. I don't remember much from the first 10 minutes but I was able to get my feet under me and play more of my game.

The Winnipeg Jets earned a 3-1 lead after two periods but then Vincent Lecavalier scored two third-period goals and Czech forward Jakub Voracek netted the overtime winner after ten seconds in the extra period. Also for him it was the second marker of the night after scoring the first goal 46 seconds into the game.

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“The way the guys battled in the third period was unbelievable,” Zepp said. "I appreciate this more than anybody knows. This is 26 years trying to get here. And to be able to get here and play and the game wasn't perfect, obviously, but to get the win at the end like that is incredible.”


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