shannon szabados action
Bleeding blue and orange
A proud Edmontonian, Shannon Szabados has a special connection with the city and the team that inspired her to chase her hockey dreams
Chris Jurewicz
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December 15, 2017
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The Edmonton Oilers have a team slogan: Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler.

Alumni live that slogan, often going back to Edmonton to give back to the community that has supported them over the years.

Shannon Szabados feels it, too. Although she’s never been an official member of the Oilers, she has a unique tie to the organization. She grew up watching her hometown Oilers, attended Bill Ranford’s goalie schools over several years, has practiced with the team and, in recent years, has been honoured by the club for her gold medals with Canada’s National Women’s Team goaltender at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

So you can understand how much pride Szabados will have on Sunday night when she steps on the ice at Rogers Place with her Canadian teammates to face off against the Americans in the finale of the six-game pre-Olympic series.

“It’s exciting for me,” says Szabados, who has played one game thus far in the series, making 27 saves in a 2-1 overtime win on Dec. 3 in St. Paul, Minn. “I’m born and raised in Edmonton my entire life and lately with everything that has been going on there – the new arena, having McDavid there, just the excitement in the city – Edmonton is a huge hockey city as it is but that has ramped up even more in the last year or two.”

Szabados hasn’t played a game at Rogers Place (she has attended several events there) and you can bet the Edmonton crowd will give her a warm welcome in her debut in the new rink.

The puck-stopper is as loyal of an Edmontonian as you will find. Although hockey has taken her to different parts of the world, she has always come home to the Alberta capital.

Szabados spends countless hours in the community giving back, whether it’s hosting hockey schools for the next generation of goaltenders, speaking about her experiences at local schools or helping fundraise for local charities, including the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation.

The willingness to give back, she says, is due to how much the city and its people mean to her and how much support she’s been given over the years.

“I always get asked about how I got into hockey,” she says. “Edmonton is such a great hockey city so, for me, it was growing up watching the Oilers when I was 2-3 years old, getting to watch them on TV, having that accessibility, going to the games. As far as the city, there’s so much opportunity. Some of my fondest memories are skating around on the outdoor rinks. There are dozens of rinks in the winter that kids can go skate on. Things like that really shaped me into the hockey player and person I am today.

“One of my big mentors growing up was Bill Ranford and I was fortunate enough to go to his goalie schools just outside the city for years and years and kind of learn from him. I still have a picture of him holding the Conn Smythe Trophy in my room.”

Playing in front of her hometown fans will be a thrill, says Szabados, but once the puck drops it will be all business. Canada and the U.S. will meet Feb. 14 in the preliminary round at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea and Szabados and her teammates know how important the six-game series against the Americans is in terms of the process.

“They’re huge for us,” she says. “Not only does it test us individually but as a team, too. We love playing them because they’re a great team, but we also love playing them because they can show us what we need to work on. You need to play a strong team to see your weaknesses.”

Szabados is one of three goaltenders vying to be the No. 1 for Team Canada in PyeongChang. She entered the 2017-18 centralization season as the leader for that job given her past success in helping lead Canada to gold medals in Vancouver and Sochi.

But the 31-year-old knows that predictions or hype from the outside – be it from fans or media – don’t mean much. She went into the 2009-10 centralization season as the third goaltemder behind veterans Kim St-Pierre and Charline Labonté and ended up winning the job to play the gold medal game.

This year, Szabados is joined by Ann-Renée Desbiens and Geneviève Lacasse on the Canadian roster.

“I won’t take anything for granted, that’s for sure,” she says. “I was in that role where I was the youngest and was tagged as the third-string and I battled my way to be number one. Not only is it my job to work hard and earn that job, but it’s also my job to make sure that, if I’m not the number one goalie come February, whoever it is, is ready. Being the older goalie, that’s my job this year. I would feel comfortable with either one of them in the gold medal game.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

Katie Macleod
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-284-6427
Mobile: 403-612-2893
[email protected]

 

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