Two-time Olympic gold medal winning goaltender Shannon Szabados is looking to break through another glass ceiling.

After spending the parts of the last three seasons with the Columbus Cottonmouths in the Southern Professional Hockey League, Szabados is now looking for tryouts in the ECHL.

Szabados broke in with the Cottonmouths on March 12, 2014, becoming the first woman to play in the SPHL. In her first full season in Columbus, Szabados went 15-9-1 with a 3.12 goals against average and a .907 save percentage and earning SPHL Player of the Week honors twice for her play from November 24-30, 2014 and March 16-22, 2015. Last season, she went 5-11-5, had a 3.63 goals against average, but her save percentage improved to .910.

Cottonmouths Head Coach Jerome Bechard told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer the step back in Szabados’ record last season was the result of a lack of protection in front of her.

“We didn’t protect her. We need to put personnel back there to defend the net better. She needs to be 100% physically able to play. She took a beating.”

So, which ECHL teams would offer a tryout to Szabados?

One possibility is the Atlanta Gladiators, who currently do not have a goaltender announced on their training camp roster.

“I’d love to go to a training camp, play well and maybe earn a few games there (ECHL). I’ve been talking to them (Gladiators), but nothing for sure yet,” Szabados told the Edmonton Journal.

A second possible tryout spot is with the Norfolk Admirals, where new head coach Rod Aldoff recently came from the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers and is familiar with the job Szabados did in net.

If she were to make the 18-player ECHL roster, she would be the fourth female to play at the double-A level, joining Erin Whitten, who played 17 games in minor pro hockey, including four at the ECHL level with the Toledo Storm in the 1993-94 season. Angela Ruggiero is the another female player to play hockey at the double-A level, having played one game on defense with the Tulsa Oilers during the 2004-05 season. Manon Rheaume played for seven different teams between 1992 and 1997, appearing in 24 games.

If a tryout in the ECHL does not materialize, a return to Columbus is still possible for Szabados. Earlier in the offseason, the free-agent goalie mentioned on Twitter Knoxville or Huntsville as possible landing spots:

“As a player, you just want to go somewhere, either Atlanta or Columbus,” Szabados said.

One thing is for sure, Szabados has earned the opportunity to break through another glass ceiling at the double-A level and a shot at a #1 goaltender job in the SPHL. Hopefully an ECHL coach will take that step and invite her. Szabados and her story are good for hockey.


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