Columbus, GA, United States (4E Sports) – After leading Canada to another gold medal in women’s hockey, goalie Shannon Szabados announced that she’s joining the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League, a single A professional league based in the Southeastern United States.
With the signing, Szabados will be the first woman to suit up in a game in the league’s 10-year history. The Cottonmouths are currently in seventh place in the 10-team league and rank eighth in goals allowed this season.
“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,” head coach Jerome Bechard said.
Bechard said Szabados will back up the Cottonmouths’ No. 1 goalie Andrew Loewen.
“We are working on her immigration, and we are looking to sign her officially Thursday. She will play when she feels comfortable and situated,” Bechard added
The 27-year-old Edmonton native has played with men before, including four years of junior A hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
She also played on the men’s side in college, most recently with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Three current Cottonmouths players were teammates of Szabados’ at NAIT.
Szabados made three appearances for Canada at the Olympics, including in the gold-medal game against Team USA. She finished with a 0.96 goals-against average and .953 save percentage. She was also between the pipes for Canada’s last gold-medal win in 2010.
While she was in Edmonton to be honored by the Oilers for her Olympic accomplishments Tuesday, a Twitter campaign started the day previously advocated for Szabados to serve as the Oilers’ emergency backup.
That was after Ilya Bryzgalov was shipped out to the Minnesota Wild and there was no one to back up Ben Scrivens. The Oilers went with a goaltender from the University of Alberta instead, but invited Szabados to their Wednesday practice.