Canadian goalie Szabados takes move to NWHL in stride
SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN (AP) >> Two-time Olympic medalist Shannon Szabados is used to facing shots in men’s leagues this time of year. Now, the veteran goaltender is perfectly happy competing in the Four Nations Cup and for Buffalo in the women’s pro league.
“I loved my time playing men’s hockey,” Szabados said. “I don’t know at 32 that a 65-game schedule is what my body needs.”
Szabados has been the go-to goaltender for the Canadian women’s team in many world and Olympic finals since 2010. Now, she’s part of Canada’s team for the Four Nations Cup tournament, an annual event that includes the United States, Sweden and Finland.
Canada will face the U.S. on Saturday night in the final. It’s a rematch of the Olympic final that the Americans won in South Korea.
Szabados has spent the majority of her hockey career in men’s leagues, starting with exhibition games for WHL’s Tri-City Americans at age 16 to full seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference and the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Any sustained time in the women’s game came in the winters she spent with the Canadian team in Calgary preparing for Olympic Games.
Her physical, personal and geographic needs factored into the Edmonton native signing with the Buffalo Beauts of the five-team National Women’s Hockey League.
Lorain, just west of Cleveland, Ohio, is the hometown of her partner Carl Nielsen. It’s where Szabados wanted to move after the Olympics in February.
“First and foremost, the decision was based on him having a good job there,” she said. “They’ve had a jewelry store in their family for almost 400 years, so it was important for him to be there.”
Now, she’s become familiar with Interstate 90, and the 435-mile (700-kilometer) round trip from Lorain to Buffalo, New York, that she makes twice a week to play and practice with the Beauts.
Canada goaltender Shannon Szabados stops a U.S. shot during the first period of a Four Nations Cup hockey preliminary game in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.