Shannon Szabados hopeful for ECHL shot as she returns to pro hockey

You probably know goalie Shannon Szabados because she has won two Olympic gold medals.

Or by her expansive curls bursting from beneath her Team Canada helmet. Yet as she prepares for a second full-season in men’s pro hockey, this year potentially as a starter, the coolest thing about Shannon Szabados is that she’s a good goalie, no matter who is shooting the pucks.

A striking aspect to her personality is a calm resolution. In mid-June, she confirms another year with the SPHL’s Columbus Cottonmouths with forward-looking poise, “I was pretty happy with the ice time I got. As [with] any new league you have your rough roads or rough patches but I think for the most part I was happy with the way I played and then looking to build off of it this year,” she said.

A taste of the pro game was ‘exciting’ for Szabados, she began with the Cottonmouths after the 2014 Olympics. Last season she had a winning 13-9-1 record with a 3.12 GAA and .907 save percentage. It made her want more.

Shannon Szabados with the Columbus Cottonmouths shortly after her signing in March 2014.

Shannon Szabados with the Columbus Cottonmouths shortly after her signing in March 2014.

Szabados feels she hasn’t hit her pro hockey ceiling, SPHL players sometimes move up to play in the ECHL. In June she was hopeful for a ‘tryout or a camp somewhere’, saying the South Carolina Stingrays (the Washington Capitals affiliate) had interest last season.

“Even if I go start in the league that I was (SPHL) and play well and work my way up maybe get a couple games in would be cool,” she said then, “Honestly I’d just like a shot anywhere.”

RELATED: Szabados gets her own Cottonmouths’ t-shirt

The SPHL is the Southern Professional Hockey League. Columbus is not the one in Ohio, but in Georgia. Szabados also took a long-enough look at the burgeoning NWHL, which is the first women’s league to pay it’s players, “I’m excited to see where the league goes. I may look at it down the road,” she told Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, who also noted the average weekly salary in the SPHL is $325 plus a team-covered apartment.

Szabados knows what she wants, she’s been playing boy’s or men’s hockey the whole way. She was the first woman to play in four men’s leagues including the WHL, AJHL, ACAC, and SPHL.

Who knows, maybe the ECHL is next.