Shannon Szabados

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Canada names Olympic women’s hockey roster

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Marie-Philip Poulin and Shannon Szabados, stars of Canada’s last two Olympic gold-medal teams, lead the nation’s 23-player PyeongChang roster announced Friday.

The Canadians will go for their fifth straight Olympic hockey title, which would break the consecutive golds record shared by men’s teams from Canada (1920-32) and the Soviet Union (1964-76).

The U.S. roster is scheduled to be announced New Year’s Day at the NHL Winter Classic on NBC.

Poulin, a 26-year-old often called the female Sidney Crosby, scored both goals in a 2-0 Olympic final at Vancouver 2010 and the final-minute-tying and overtime-winning goals in the 3-2 stunner in Sochi in 2014.

Szabados, also going to her third Olympics after playing in men’s minor leagues in the U.S. in 2014, 2015 and 2016, was in net for both of those Olympic finals.

For the first time, Canada will go to the Olympics without legend Hayley Wickenheiser, who retired in January after winning her fourth Olympic gold medal in Sochi.

Other four-time Olympic champions Caroline Ouellette and Jayna Hefford also retired in this Olympic cycle.

Though Canada lost all three world championship finals to the U.S. since Sochi, it won the last four games of their eight-game pre-Olympic series that wrapped up Sunday.

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Canada Olympic women’s hockey roster
Goaltenders
Shannon Szabados
Ann-Renée Desbiens
Geneviève Lacasse

Defense
Jocelyne Larocque
Brigette Lacquette
Lauriane Rougeau
Laura Fortino
Meaghan Mikkelson
Renata Fast

Forwards
Meghan Agosta
Rebecca Johnston
Laura Stacey
Jennifer Wakefield
Jillian Saulnier
Melodie Daoust
Bailey Bram
Brianne Jenner
Sarah Nurse
Haley Irwin
Natalie Spooner
Emily Clark
Marie-Philip Poulin
Blayre Turnbull

Canada in control of hockey rivalry going into Olympics

AP
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Four years ago, the U.S. women’s hockey team rode a four-game winning streak over rival Canada into the Olympics, then lost both games in Sochi, including a gut-wrenching overtime final.

This time, Canada goes into the Winter Games having won four straight.

The Canadians beat the Americans 2-1 in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday night, taking their pre-Olympic series 5-3 overall.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Canada coach Laura Schuler said. “There’s still more work to do.”

The Canadians were led by their stalwarts — captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in regulation, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Wakefield scored 26 seconds into overtime and longtime goalie Shannon Szabados stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Hilary Knight netted the U.S. goal, with Maddie Rooney making 24 saves.

“The goal for us is to be hitting on all cylinders in February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

The U.S. appeared to be in that kind of form until about two weeks ago.

Before this losing streak, the U.S. had a 12-4 record against Canada since the start of 2015, including taking the last three world championship finals.

At one point, the U.S. won six straight games over a 12-month stretch, its longest streak over Canada since it famously won eight straight going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics then lost the gold-medal game.

Canada also beat the U.S. in their last four meetings before the 2006 Olympics and five straight going into the 2010 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 1. The national-team roster is at 25 players (22 skaters, three goalies), but the Olympic roster is 23 (20 skaters, three goalies).

“Can’t live in the past, can’t live in the future, so tonight we were worried about this game,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said, according to the Canadian Press. “We weren’t looking ahead to February.”

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Shannon Szabados cut from men’s pro team after 2 games

Shannon Szabados
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Canadian Olympic goalie Shannon Szabados was cut from her men’s pro team two games into the season on Monday.

Szabados, playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League for a third year but in her first with the Peoria (Ill.) Rivermen, was cut along with the team’s other goalie, Storm Phaneuf, after they combined for 6-1 and 5-1 losses in the first two games last week.

“After our first two games, I thought our goaltending wasn’t good enough to compete, and changes had to be made,” Peoria coach Jean-Guy Trudel said in a press release. “We’re going to continue adjusting our roster as needed until we find a group on and off the ice that I feel can accomplish our primary goal here in Peoria, which is to build a winning team here in Peoria and bring our fans a championship.”

Szabados, a 30-year-old who won the last two Olympic finals against the U.S., recorded a goals-against average of 6.10 and a .792 save percentage while playing parts of both losses last week.

“I came off the ice after those games knowing it wasn’t going to work,” Trudel said, according to the Peoria Journal Star. “We had no preseason games, so essentially those acted as that test, and we found out some things that just weren’t going to be the way we needed.

“I thought our goaltending wasn’t good enough to compete, took the morale out of our team a bit and changes had to be made.”

Szabados had signed a tryout contract with Peoria a month earlier and was one of two goalies out of five to make the opening-night roster.

Szabados played for the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths of the same league the previous two full seasons, ranking in the bottom half of the SPHL in goalie stats. She ranked second on the team in goalie games played each season.

2014-15: 3.12 GAA, .907 SV%
2015-16: 3.63 GAA, .910 SV%

If Szabados doesn’t sign with another pro team, she could now be available for a U.S.-Canada series in December. Szabados hasn’t played for the Canadian national team since the Sochi Olympics and reportedly said in August that she was unsure if she would make a 2018 Olympic run.

Szabados was not on the roster named Oct. 14 for next week’s Four Nations Cup in Finland, a tournament that includes the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden.

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups set