After Shannon Szabados won her second gold medal in eight years for Canada's women's hockey team, she thought that she would be hanging up her skates and putting her hockey equipment away until next winter. Then some of the guys that she's played with over the years gave her a call asking the goaltender to check out their team in Columbus.
Now the 27-year-old girl from Edmonton will get another chance to play with the boys.
Szabados signed a contract to tend goal for the Southern Professional Hockey League's Columbus Cottonmouths. She will be the first female player to skate on the same ice as the men in the league which has been around for ten years.
The backstop took to Twitter to announce the news.
— Shannon Szabados (@ShannonSzabados) March 7, 2014
This isn't the first time that Szabados has shared the same ice as the men. She has played with men in various Junior Leagues and in the Western League. She also served as goaltender for five years in Alberta's Men's College team where she set a record in the 2012-2013 season for the lowest goals-against average. In addition, she tried out for the Edmonton Oilers just last week because they were down a goaltender.
Cottonmouth head coach Jerome Bechard feels confident in her ability, "I am very excited to get a world class athlete that has competed and has faced, high pressured situations. Shannon has won at every level she has played, in women’s hockey or men’s hockey." He added, "She won a championship with NATI last year alongside Andy Willigar and Jordan Draper so I know she can compete at this level. We are working on her immigration, and we are looking to sign her officially Thursday, where she will be backing up Loewen. She will play when she feels comfortable and situated.”
Szabados isn't the first female to play on a men's team. Manon Rheaume made it to an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the early 1990s. However, no female has ever played a regular season game for an NHL team. Szabados' Team Canada Coach Kevin Dineen has all the faith in the world that the backstop can compete in the SPHL, "I think she's going to do just fine in that environment. I don't think this is one of those gimmicky things, although I'd be naive to think that wasn't on the owner's mind. She can play. She'll be more than up to the task."
— Mike Danton (@Mike_Danton) March 8, 2014
— Greg Z. Newcomb (@GregZNewcomb) March 8, 2014
Image via Shannon Szabados, Twitter