Shannon Szabados could start season opener in men’s league

Shannon Szabados
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Canadian Olympic champion goalie Shannon Szabados will probably start the Oct. 24 season opener for her men’s minor-league team, the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths, the club’s coach and general manager told the Canadian Press.

“I want to get that first win for her really bad,” Jerome Bechard said before training camp opens Wednesday. “We play 56 games. In my mind, right off the bat, the plan is for her to get 20 games, if not more. I guess time will tell and we’ll see.”

Szabados, 28, won her second straight Olympic gold medal in Sochi. She was the best women’s goalie there, with a 0.96 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage in three games.

She practiced with the Edmonton Oilers on March 5 and joined the Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League during their season two days later. Szabados lost both of her starts and posted a 3.55 goals-against average and .894 save percentage.

“I wouldn’t bring her in if she wasn’t legit and didn’t give us an opportunity to win,” Bechard told the Canadian Press. “She is probably one of the most technical goalies I’ve seen.

“If she’s susceptible, it would be on a rebound, back-door goal because she is a little smaller than Andrew and some of the other goalies. But she’s pretty acrobatic and goes side to side with the best of them. She’s really key on making that first save look simple and not giving up the rebounds.”

Anne Schleper skates with Tampa Bay Lightning