Shannon Szabados said she wasn’t nervous practicing with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
The Canadian women’s national team’s No. 1 said she got a call from Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the Senators, asking her if she had her gear and if she wanted to practice Wednesday.
“Not a bad week and a half,” Szabados, 27, said. “Gold medal in Sochi and practicing with the Oilers. Doesn’t get much better.”
Szabados was called on because the Oilers were short on goalies after Tuesday trades. A male reinforcement is on the way, so she’s not looking to get into a game yet.
One woman has played in the NHL — 1998 Canadian Olympic goalie Manon Rheaume in exhibition games in 1992 and 1993.
Szabados, who has said a goal is to play men’s professional hockey, knew some of the players already and actually played against another Oilers goalie, Ben Scrivens, in juniors.
What was the significance of a woman practicing with an NHL team?
“Hopefully, maybe just open some eyes,” said Szabados, who played against men in juniors and at the university level as recently as last year. “As a hockey player, and as a female hockey player, you just want to be seen as a hockey player and as a goalie. That’s what I felt like today. The Oilers welcomed me with open arms, just another player on the ice with maybe a little longer hair than the rest of them.”
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said on Tuesday that Szabados playing in a game could be something the team considered but not at this point in time.
The Oilers skaters were impressed by her Wednesday.
“She was great today,” center Sam Gagner said. “It was nice to have her out. Obviously, we all watched that gold-medal game. It was awesome to watch, so I’m sure it was a thrill for her to be out here. It was fun for us as well.”
Szabados, who skates with NHL players in the summer, was tested in a shootout in the latter part of practice.
“You don’t see much net,” right wing Jordan Eberle said. “She moves well. … Once you kind of figured out that she was pretty good, you’re trying to score and put as many in as you can.”