TORONTO - After 14 professional seasons, including seven in Germany and stops in the OHL, ECHL, and AHL, goalie Rob Zepp finally reached the NHL Saturday.
Zepp, 33, who grew up near Toronto and was a Maple Leafs fan, was recalled from the AHL's Phantoms and served as Ray Emery's backup Saturday. He could make his first NHL start Sunday in Winnipeg.
Zepp, who signed a two-way contract in July, said his strong play for the Flyers in this year's preseason gives him confidence if he is called into action. In three preseason games, Zepp was 1-1 (one no-decision) with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.
"When the call came, a lot of things run through your mind. It's kind of been a long time coming," Zepp said. "It's been a long road, but I was very excited to get that call."
Zepp conceded that "throughout your career, you always have your doubts" about reaching the NHL, "but I always believed in myself and believed I could do it - and felt I just needed an opportunity."
Playing in Europe is "no longer a death sentence" for someone trying to reach the NHL, general manager Ron Hextall said.