Shannon Szabados heads to historic franchise

Shannon Szabados continues to break down the gender barriers in her career.

Signing a try-out deal for the Peoria Rivermen, Szabados will attempt to become the first female player to suit up for one of the oldest franchises in minor hockey.

The Edmonton native will certainly look forward to playing for Peoria, as the Rivermen utterly dominated Szabados’ Columbus Cottonmouths last season.

Szabados was 0-3 with a 5.34 and .892 against Peoria, but Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel noted that his team were registering 45+ shots in those victories and that Canada’s gold winning medal goaltender still managed to post a seasonal save percentage over .900 behind one of the worst teams in the league.

Szabados would only be able to record five victories last season after fifteen the year before and will look forward to playing on a better defensively sound and structured team should she make the cut.

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The Peoria Rivermen are relative newcomers to the SPHL, having formerly been a member of the AHL before Vancouver bought out the franchise and decided to cut and chase to Utica.
There has been some success in winning two consecutive regular season championships but as yet no playoff triumph in their quest for a first President’s Cup.

The Rivermen signed six goaltenders through last season, though none are due to return for 2016/17
That includes star performer Kyle Rank, who has since retired.

Tyler Green projects to be the teams number one and Szabados looks set to have to battle fellow try-out signing Troy Passingham for the second berth. The Mississauga native is currently also trying out for South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) so the picture is a little more unclear that it might ordinarily have been.

It was somewhat of a surprise when Columbus released Szabados this summer, but the 30 year old has not been short of offers from other teams, including Hockey Canada, who want her to play in either the Four Nations Cup in November or in a series against the U.S. women in December.

Despite the Rivermen organisation’s assurance that they will try to accommodate their Olympic winning goaltender, the schedules don’t really match-up and could prove problematic down the line.

Closer to the end of her playing career than the start, it would not be a surprise if Szabados decides to focus on her professional career ahead of the national team.

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