Shannon Szabados got a call from a Southern Professional Hockey League team on Thursday. The message?
Suit up for the Columbus Cottonmouths.
“I haven’t told anyone this yet, but I got a call today from a team in the Southern Professional Hockey League to go play there for the rest of the season,” Szabados told Sportsnet 590 The Fan radio Thursday night. “I might be a step ahead of myself, but who knows, I might be in the U.S. starting next week.”
Sure enough …
Canada’s No. 1 women’s goalie is set to play in a men’s professional league. Szabados, 27, practiced with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday as the NHL team was short on goalies after trades.
The Cottonmouths have eight games left in the regular season, beginning Friday and wrapping March 22.
Szabados started the last two Olympic gold-medal games, winning both, and was statistically the best goalie in Sochi. Szabados played with boys growing up in junior hockey since age 5 and then with men at the university level as recently as last year.
Canadian 1998 Olympic goalie Manon Rheaume is the only woman to play in the NHL, doing so in exhibition games. Other women’s players have played in non-NHL men’s pro leagues, such as Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser.
Hockey Hall of Fame opens Olympic display
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was added to the list of 30 finalists to make the 12-man U.S. roster for the Olympics, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.
Lillard, 25 and a two-time All-Star, did not attend an August camp deemed mandatory for Olympic consideration, but called USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and expressed desire for the Rio Games.
“Both [coach] Mike [Krzyzewski] and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists,” Colangelo said in a press release. “Damian has been a member of the USA National Team since 2014, and he participated in National Team training camps in 2013 and 2014, so he does have equity in USA Basketball, which is always important to me.”
USA Basketball has not said when the final 12-man Olympic team will be named. In 2012, it named its Olympic roster three weeks before the London Games.
The 2012 Olympic roster included three point guards — Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. Paul and Westbrook are finalists for the 2016 team, but Williams is not.
Other potential first-time Olympic point guards competing with Lillard include NBA MVP Stephen Curry, All-Star John Wall and past All-Star Kyrie Irving.
MORE: Tony Parker updates Olympic qualifying, Rio status
Bob Costas will be the Olympic primetime host for a record 11th time in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Costas, the primetime host at every Olympics on NBC since Barcelona 1992, also served as NBC’s late-night host at Seoul 1988.
“The Olympics are a unique television event,” Costas said in an NBC press release. “They involve classic sports coverage, of course, but also many elements of storytelling and travelogue aspects that are not as much a part of the typical sports broadcast. In a way, the Olympics are a three-week mini-series which, if done well, should bring viewers not only memorable athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.”
NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell said “there is no one better than” Costas for the role.
“For a quarter-century, Bob has been NBC’s pilot of primetime at the Olympics, and over that span, the scope of our coverage has constantly evolved, with Rio set to become the most live event in U.S. television history,” Bell said in a press release. “Given his vast experience and uncanny expertise, simply put there is no one better than Bob to tell the stories of the athletes, take our viewers inside the world’s biggest sports event, and introduce them to one of the most spectacular cities on the planet.”
Jim McKay hosted Olympic primetime coverage eight times for ABC.
WATCH: NBC Olympics promo video