Having just turned 16 years of age earlier this month, Noah Zeppa is one of the youngest major midget goalies in Ontario. And despite being bypassed at the 2018 priority selections draft, Zeppa has had the practice experience of facing Ontario Hockey League shooters this season.
To be sure, the still growing, 5-foot-11, 160-pound twine tender with the Soo Major Thunderbirds of the Great North Midget Hockey League, has suited up for both the Hamilton Bulldogs and Soo Greyhounds of the OHL.
Back in late October, it was a unique — and unexpected — OHL audition for Zeppa as the Sault Ste. Marie native dressed as the emergency backup goalie for visiting Hamilton in a game against the Greyhounds. On that occasion, Zeppa did not see any game action as the Bulldogs dropped a 4-3 decision to the Greyhounds but the young goalie participated in the full pre-game warmup in his first time facing OHL shooters.
Before and since then, via his contacts in Sault Ste. Marie and northern Ontario, Hamilton scout Beau Moyer has been keeping close tabs on Zeppa.
And over the past few months, Zeppa has been called on to practice with the OHL Greyhounds several times. With veteran goalie Matthew Villalta injured and then away at the Team Canada, World Junior tryouts, Zeppa got the opportunity to participate in a number of Greyhound practices and scrimmages.
Meantime, the rookie Zeppa has been sharing goal-tending duties with veteran Andrew Uschenko with the Major Thunderbirds of the Great North loop.
With a record of 8-22-0, the Major Thunderbirds are near the bottom of the standings in the nine-team Great North. But Zeppa has been the goalie of record in seven of the eight Soo victories. And while Zeppa has a rather respectable goals against average of 3.95, his goalie partner has a 6.19 GAA.
Zeppa has already grown three inches and added more than 20 pounds since the end of the 2017-2018 season and with OHL teams now more aware of him this 2018-2019 term, the up and coming goalie from the Soo is looking at a main training camp opportunity ahead of the 2019-2020 term.
PHOTO: Noah Zeppa, warming up for the Hamilton Bulldogs prior to an OHL game against the Soo Greyhounds earlier this season. (Photo by Jim Egan.)