Gold medal goalie Shannon Szabados signs with men’s pro team

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After leading Team Canada to a gold medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics, goalie Shannon Szabados is looking to continue her hockey career with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Szabados, who will become the first woman to play in the league, had a 0.96 GAA and .954 save percentage for Canada in the Olympics and played in the gold medal game against the United States.

“I am very excited to get a world-class athlete that has competed and has faced high-pressured situations,” Columbus coach Jerome Bechard said, per the NHL.com. “Shannon has won at every level she has played, in women’s hockey or men’s hockey.”

Szabados, 27, has excelled in other men’s leagues and actually played with three members of the Cottonmouths last season when she led the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to a championship. She was also the first woman to play in the Western Hockey League when she appeared in a game with the Tri-City Americans in 2002-03.

When the Edmonton Oilers were recently short a goaltender because they had traded away Ilya Bryzgalov and Viktor Fasth hadn’t arrived, they asked Szabados to practice with them.

“Maybe (we took it easy) the first couple of shots, then you find out that she’s good enough to handle it,” Oilers forward Taylor Hall told the Edmonton Sun. “She was good. She’s obviously not as big as some of the NHL goalies are now, but she can move around the net really well.

“She surprised me with a few of the saves she made. She easily held her own, it was fun to watch.”