Szabados Earns First Professional Shutout
Shannon Szabados has been breaking ground ever since the Sochi Olympics came to a close last March. After backstopping Canada to a 3-2 win against the United States to take home her second Olympic Gold medal, she first practiced with her hometown NHL club, the Edmonton Oilers. Then she signed a contract with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
In March 2014 she became the first woman to play a regular season game in a men’s professional league in North America. In November 2014, she became the first female goaltender to record a win in a men’s pro league. And this Saturday, she became the first female goaltender to claim a shutout in a men’s pro league.
— Shannon Szabados (@ShannonSzabados) December 27, 2015
This is Szabados’s second full season with the Cottonmouths. She has played in 39 games with the club, posting a .909 save percentage.
Szabados’s turn to men’s professional hockey can certainly be said to be groundbreaking. Since she signed and played in the SPHL, Noora Räty has played in Finland’s Mestis and Suomi Sarja (the second and third tier professional leagues) and Meeri Räisänen has played in the Suomi Sarja. Last month, the two were the first female goaltenders to face one another in a a men’s league game when Räty’s D-Kiekko played Räisänen’s KJT.
When placed alongside the growth of women’s professional hockey in both North America and Europe, the achievements of Szabados, Räty, and Räisänen show that the opportunities for women to play hockey after college have never been better.