Express alumni making their presence felt in the NHL & AHL, News (York-Simcoe Express)

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Feb 17, 2015 | anightingale | 3380 views
Express alumni making their presence felt in the NHL & AHL
For our YSE family, the level of passion and interest in our players doesn't stop when they graduate from our program.  In fact, once they're gone, we find ourselves cheering them from the sidelines and our YSE pride only increases when we see how well they've progressed and the level they are playing at now.  While graduates Tyler Boston, Graham Knott, Sam Harding, Connor Schlicting, Maurizio Colella, Nick Moutrey, Stephen Nosad, Steven Varga, and Travis Dermott, are climbing up the junior ranks, we've seen a handful of our grads reach that next step in their careers, playing at the professional level.

Every player dreams of being in the NHL.  You don't even have to ask them.  It's just a given. While some may find a different calling before reaching the top, it's ultimately the goal they set out to achieve from the start.  The AHL (American Hockey League) is a stepping stone to the NHL.  Much like playing minor hockey, the AHL is a place where players learn.  They learn about their team's style of play, systems, and of course the role the big club sees them in.  A handful of the players below have not only jumped right into the AHL, but have also had a chance to play along side some of the NHL's best.

Connor Crisp:
(Photo by Christian Bonin @

The captain of the 2009-2010 Express Minor Midget team is in his rookie season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens.  A gritty power forward, Connor has skated in 23 games for the Bulldogs this year and has registered two points; his first career goal and assist.  Connor's contributions to his team don't necessarily reflect his points; he's a heavy hitter, fanatic defensively, and knows where to be on the ice. He is second on the Bulldogs in PIM this season with 91.  He plays a tough game and we can't wait to see Connor develop into the goal scoring machine he was in junior hockey.

Rob Zepp:
(Photo by Graig Abel/NHL Images)

Zepp is arguably the most interesting story out of all our alumni to crack the NHL.  The 32 year old goaltender from Newmarket, Ontario was a graduate of the Express in 1997-98 before joining the Newmarket Hurricanes for a short stint, prior to being drafted into the OHL.  Rob is a great success story, that demonstrates the power of perseverance.  It's also a bit of a heart-breaker, but we admire his grit and dedication.  Zepp was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft but never got a chance to suit up for them.  Why? The fax to the central registry was six minutes past the deadline, therefore voiding his entry level contract, forcing him to re-enter the draft the following year.  In 2001 he was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes.  Rob never got the opportunity to play for Carolina, getting lost along the depth chart.  He spent a lot of his time in the ECHL.  In 2005 Zepp decided to venture overseas, to play in Finland and then eventually in Germany where he won five championships in seven years.  In the summer of 2014, the  Philadelphia Flyers came knocking.  Zepp agreed to a two-way contract in the hope of re-sparking his NHL dreams.  After Flyers goaltender Steve Mason went down with an injury in practice earlier this year, Zepp got his chance.  On the tail end of back to back games, Zepp and the Flyers came from behind to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in overtime, giving Rob that long awaited 1st career NHL victory.  Not only did Rob make history for himself, he made NHL history too.  At 33 years old, Rob became the oldest goaltender in NHL history to win their debut since Hugh Lehman in 1926.

Daniel Catenacci:
(Photo by Christian Bonin @

Standing in at just under 5'9, Daniel Catenacci isn't the biggest man on the ice but it certainly doesn't show in his play.  The 21 year old from Newmarket, Ontario is in his second season with the Rochester Americans (AHL affiliate of the NHLs Buffalo Sabres) where he's tallied 16 points in 40 games played.  The Express graduate ranks 22nd out of 100 on the All-Time ETAMMHL scoring list.  In his Minor Midget year, Cantenacci tallied 87 points in 39 games.  Despite his size, Daniel plays a very physical game for the Amerks and is bound to get a real good look at Sabres training camp next season with their re-build in full effect.   Earlier this year, I caught up with Daniel post-game when Rochester visited Toronto to take on the Marlies.  You can read that here

Barclay Goodrow:
(Image via

Like his friend and York - Simcoe teammate Dan Catenacci, Barclay Goodrow had great success with the Express in his minor midget year.  Goodrow recorded 114 points in 71 games for the Express in 2008-2009 which ultimately led to him being selected in the first round of the OHL priority selection by the Brampton Battalions.  Goodrow had a tough road to reaching the NHL.  He went un-drafted and signed with the San Jose Sharks as an unrestricted free-agent this past off-season.  After making the Sharks' roster out of training camp, Goodrow recorded his first career NHL goal on December the 9th vs the Edmonton Oilers. (Video can be seen here).  In 40 games this season, Barclay has 4 goals and 6 assists for a total of 10 points.

Chris Tierney:
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While he and Barclay Goodrow were never teammates on the Express, being former Express boys is most definitely a common connection the two rookie forwards have with each other.  Much like Goodrow, Tierney made the Sharks' roster out of camp only to suffer an injury early in the season.  Chris has spent most of the season with San Jose's AHL affiliate Worcester, recording 24 points in 26 games. In his most recent call-up to the big club, Tierney recorded his first career NHL goal in a victory over the Vancouver Canucks. He now has 6 points in 21 NHL games.  Chris, Barclay and the San Jose Sharks visit the Maple Leafs in March.

Ryan Murphy:
(image via

Ryan Murphy is one of the highest scoring defenders to come out of the YSE program.  The former Kitchener Ranger got his first taste of the NHL during the 2012-13 season, appearing in four games with the Carolina Hurricanes.  Murphy scored his first NHL goal during the 2013-14 season versus the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.  You can see it here.  This season, Ryan has recorded 7 points in 21 games in the NHL, and 17 points (all assists) for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL.