Cana­dian goalie Sz­aba­dos takes move to NWHL in stride

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS -

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.

LIAM RICHARDS/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS VIA AP

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.

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