Edmonton’s Shannon Szabados returns to Canadian women’s hockey team, but keeps a toe in men’s game

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By Donna Spencer – Edmonton Journal

Shannon Szabados says she could write a book about her departure from the Peoria Rivermen, but the goaltender would rather discuss her return to the Canadian women’s hockey team.

The 30-year-old from Edmonton was among the 22 women named to Canada’s roster Wednesday for a two-game series against the United States in December. The archrivals meet in Plymouth, Mich., on Dec. 17 and again in Sarnia, Ont., on Dec. 19.

Szabados hasn’t been on the ice with the Canadian women since Feb. 20, 2014, when her 27 saves helped Canada win the Olympic women’s hockey final in Sochi, Russia.

 She’s played men’s pro hockey in Southern Professional Hockey League since then and most recently with the Rivermen.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist has spent the majority of her hockey career playing with and against men. Szabados knows the adjustments she must make upon her return to women’s hockey.

“They’re pretty different games for a goalie,” she said Wednesday on a conference call.

“For the girls, I find they hold onto the puck a little bit more. It’s a little more puck possession. The guys never like it when I say this, but the girls play a little bit more of a smarter game. The men, it’s a little more run and gun. Where they would take a shot, maybe the girls would take a pass, so as a goalie, it’s a little bit more patience.

“One of the big things is tracking. The puck comes off the stick a little bit differently for a girl than it does the guys.”

She spent the last two seasons with the SPHL’s Columbus Cottonmouths. Her overall record was 20-20-6 and she carried a save percentage over .900 each year.

Szabados started this season with the Rivermen. She and another goaltender were released after Peoria’s opening weekend in October.

She played parts of two games with a goals-against average of 6.10 and a save percentage of .792.

Rivermen coach Jean-Guy Trudel told CBC Sports after releasing her that he signed Szabados in a “package deal” to get defenceman Chris Neilson to sign as well. Trudel called the two players’ relationship “cancerous” on the team.

“They’re pretty different games for a goalie,” she said Wednesday on a conference call.

“For the girls, I find they hold onto the puck a little bit more. It’s a little more puck possession. The guys never like it when I say this, but the girls play a little bit more of a smarter game. The men, it’s a little more run and gun. Where they would take a shot, maybe the girls would take a pass, so as a goalie, it’s a little bit more patience.

“One of the big things is tracking. The puck comes off the stick a little bit differently for a girl than it does the guys.”

She spent the last two seasons with the SPHL’s Columbus Cottonmouths. Her overall record was 20-20-6 and she carried a save percentage over .900 each year.

Szabados started this season with the Rivermen. She and another goaltender were released after Peoria’s opening weekend in October.

She played parts of two games with a goals-against average of 6.10 and a save percentage of .792.

Rivermen coach Jean-Guy Trudel told CBC Sports after releasing her that he signed Szabados in a “package deal” to get defenceman Chris Neilson to sign as well. Trudel called the two players’ relationship “cancerous” on the team.

Szabados expects to split her time between Calgary and Edmonton. She’ll supplement ice time with the Chiefs by skating with her former men’s college team in Edmonton.

The Chiefs are in the five-team Chinook League, which includes several former pro and university players.

“They had an opening, asked me if I wanted to come out skate,” Szabados said. “I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to get back on the ice, get into some game action and get prepared for the December series.”

Canada’s roster for the December series includes 14 players who won Olympic gold in Sochi. The Americans have won six of the last seven world titles.

2 Comments

  1. Oh goodie ??

  2. Woohoo look who’s back in red and white this should be good ???can’t wait shut em down szabby

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