COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) announce the signing of goaltender Shannon Szabados (SAH-bah-dohs) to the team for the upcoming season. Szabados returns to the team where she pioneered last season as the first female player in SPHL history, playing two games in net for the Snakes at the end of last season.
The 28 year old Szabados began her first foray into men’s hockey at the age of 5 and continued through juniors and collegiately in her home province of Alberta. She played a combined 129 games for Sherwood Park in the Alberta Junior Hockey League from 2002 to 2005, recording a shutout in her first-ever game there in 2002 and being named co-MVP of the AJHL All-Star Game in 2004-05. She went on to play one season at Fort Saskatchewan in the AJHL in 2006-07. She had an eye-popping 31-7-4 record in net for the Traders that season with an equally stellar 2.13 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage, and four shutouts. The team fell to Camrose in the AJHL Finals that season, but Szabados was honored individually as the AJHL’s top goaltender for the 2006-07 season.
Szabados then took her game to the college level to Grant MacEwan College in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association from 2007 to 2011 before transferring to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, playing alongside fellow current and former Cottonmouths Jordan Draper, Kyle Johnson, and Andy Willigar. Szabados had the most success of her junior or collegiate career at NAIT. After a 7-7-0 record with a 2.49 GAA, .909 SPCT, and two shutouts, she took her game to another level in 2012-13 in leading the Ooks to the ACAC championship. She finished the regular season with a 15-2-0 record, a .916 SPCT, a 1.58 GAA, and five shutouts; the latter two are ACAC all-time season records in those categories. She ran a perfect 6-0-0 record in the playoffs with a 1.87 GAA and .930 SPCT en route to the ACAC title.
Szabados made history in the SPHL last year, signing with the Snakes in March and appearing in two games. She finished with an 0-2-0 record but had a respectable 3.55 GAA and .894 SPCT. She was named the game’s third star in her second game, a 3-2 loss in Huntsville on March 22 where she stopped 32 of 35 shots on goal.
She is best known, however, for her role on the Team Canada women’s hockey team. Szabados has backstopped her country to consecutive Olympic gold medals in both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic games. She had two shutouts in Olympic play in 2010 including a shutout of the United States in the gold-medal game.
The Cottonmouths will begin their 11th season as an original member of the SPHL on October 24 with their season opener at home against the Knoxville Ice Bears. Season tickets, group sales, and sponsorship opportunities are available now for the upcoming season. To find out how you can become a part of what will be an exciting 2014-15 season, contact the team at 706.571.0086 or visit them online at www.cottonmouths.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cottonmouths, or by following @Cottonmouths on Twitter.