Shannon Szabados has quite the resume.
A three-time Olympian with two gold medals and a silver, Szabados and the first woman to accomplish a number of feats in her professional hockey career. At nine years old, she was the first girl to play in a hockey tournament in her hometown of Edmonton, Canada.
She was the first woman to play in the Western Hockey League at age 16 and over the last few years, she paved her way in the world of men’s hockey. She is widely considered a "legend" in Canada.
Now, Szabados will bring her talent to the Buffalo Beauts women's hockey team as their new goalie.
“I’ve played my entire career on a men’s team and guys' teams growing up and when I started, it was my only option,” Szabados said in an introductory press conference at HarborCenter on Thursday. “So it’s great to see the growth of women’s hockey where it is today and there’s still a lot of work to be done and we’re headed in the right direction for sure.”
Szabados played against Beauts defender Emily Pfalzer earlier this year in Pyeongchang, South Korea, losing the gold medal in overtime. After that game, Canadians on Twitter hailed Szabados as a hero for her impressive saves. She was named best goalie in the tournament, for the second time.
Many of Szabados’s fans may be wondering, why now come to Buffalo?
“I think that’s the question,” said the Canadian native, laughing while sporting a gold maple leaf necklace. “I think the signing kind of came as a surprise to some people. For the last few years it’s kinda been Buffalo."
The city had been on her radar. She cites the team's direction and Buffalo's proximity to her boyfriend’s hometown in Ohio as some of the reasons for signing in the Queen City.
For the world of women's hockey, Szabados brings momentum to the sport after spending much of her career as a woman on men’s teams.
“Women’s hockey didn’t quite get the exposure it does now. Just looking around the rinks, getting to watch the games on TV, seeing players in commercials, things like that,” she said. “So, I think it’s great for the game and kind of reaching all aspects of girls and boys. I think it goes as far as not just hockey, it’s just kind of showing women and young children at any level, they can grow as they go.”