Oilers Hockey School presented by Rogers had another special guest stop by on Wednesday as the kids were treated with a visit from two-time Olympic gold medalist and Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team goaltender Shannon Szabados.
Edmonton native Szabados spoke of the privilege of giving back to the community where she grew up playing hockey.
“It’s nice to be home for the summer and I take any chance I get to come back to the rink, especially when it’s camps like these,” she said. “These camps were my favourite and always the highlights of my summer, so it’s nice to be able to help out and give back to the community in this way,”
After four seasons of collegiate men’s hockey with MacEwan and NAIT, Szabados just finished her second season with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). She’s back in her hometown for the summer and talked about the minor pro experience so far.
“It’s been amazing. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I first went down there because it is so far south, but I’d say the majority of the league is Canadian. So I have played with and against a lot of the guys down there and that made the transition easier,” she said. “And as far the fans go, it’s been unbelievable. We have a lot of die-hard fans down there. The hockey is great and I am getting ice time and starting to feel more comfortable.”
As far her career progression goes, Szabados feels like she is right where she belongs following a 15-9-1 campaign with a 3.12 GAA and .907 save percentage.
“I think any hockey player’s goal is to play the highest level possible and I think right now the (SPHL) is a good fit for me.”
Being a local product, Szabados also spoke fondly of when she got to suit up and participate in an Oilers practice on March 5, 2014.
“That was so awesome and such an honour. Some of the kids were actually asking about that today,” she said. “The Oilers organization has been so great to me, so I feel it’s important to come out and help whenever I can. I was born and raised in Edmonton and will definitely always be an Oilers girl at heart.”
Szabados backstopped the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team to two consecutive gold medals at the 2010 Vancouver & 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.