Below is my quick interview with Shannon Szabados for The IX Newsletter. Be sure to subscribe to the FREE newsletter to receive weekly updates for women’s soccer (Mondays), basketball (Wednesdays) and hockey (with me on Fridays).
Legendary goaltender Shannon Szabados, Buffalo Beauts
Shannon Szabados: They’re different games. You know not one better than the other, but it’s just a different type of game. I guess the women’s game is a lot of possession. You know, I hate to say it but I think the women’s game the players play the game smarter and sometimes that means hanging onto the puck a little bit longer or making a pass whereas sometimes a guy would shoot it. Just minor adjustments like that sometimes as a goalie you need to be aware of.I think my patience in the women’s game, it shows a little bit more. You know, I [have] to be a little more patient and try to read the play a little bit more. But you know, I’ve been fortunate with Team Canada we play, in Olympic years, we play full time together so it’s not an unknown territory for me. So hopefully [I can] kind of lean on that experience.
ELA: With the NWHL coming into existence in the last several years. You know women’s hockey has kind of elevated for a lot of people in a lot of different ways just with more opportunities for women. I’m wondering what’s your take on how the women’s game, in particular, has grown and what you hope to be able to see and contribute now that you will be with NWHL?
SS: Yes. It’s been amazing to see the process you know from the development of the CWHL and NWHL and you know leagues overseas as well. And to see how far they’ve come, and the exposure they’ve gotten, and how well they’ve marketed games, and you know the fanbase around it has been incredible. And then obviously you know people like yourself, I read The Ice Garden all the time. So, the coverage over the last few years has been amazing and it’s fun to see. And it’s fun to be a part of it now and see you know how far we can take this.
ELA: Well, forgive me if I stutter through the rest of this call [laughs]. We’re very excited to be able to provide that coverage. I wanted to ask you a little bit about what you know about the Pegula Sports Entertainment being able to take over the Buffalo Beauts? You will now be playing for women’s team the first women’s hockey team to be owned independent of the league that it’s competing in.
SS: I didn’t know a ton about them before, but obviously I’ve quickly come to realize the impact they’ve had on this team and in the Buffalo community. They have their hands and everything and one thing that really struck me is, it’s my first day in Buffalo and I’ve already met them. I ran into Mrs. [Kim] Pegula today at the rink. So it’s incredible to see you know not only are they involved on the ownership side of it but they’re hands-on and they’re everywhere in the community. So it’s fun to see the direction that they’re taking [with] this team in the league, and women’s hockey, and kind of everything that they’re involved with.
ELA: I wanted to talk to you a little bit about some of the injuries that you have sustained over the last few years … you just went through the Olympic cycle, how are you feeling? What are some things that you’re hoping physically you’ll be able to make sure are on the up-and-up as you get ready for the season?
SS: Yeah I was a little bit of a rough year last year, just you know the demand of everything and how much we were on the ice and the training. So, it was kind of one of those years. I had some misfortunes but I had a little bit of time now to recover; it’s been a while since February.
That was kind of one of the decisions too you know take more time off to recover? How are you feeling off the ice, training-wise? So, I got a good grasp on it now and I think especially by the time August-September rolls around [I’ll be ready]. I feel great already and I’ve been on the ice a few times here now. So, I’m just looking for a fun year.
ELA: You will be the first member of Team Canada active member of Team Canada to play in the NWHL. Which means though that you also be not only teammates with but also going up against players that are in the U.S. system. We always know that there’s there’s a good amount of ribbing that happens. What’s your take on being able to skate with and against some of the Olympians?
SS: Yeah it’ll be exciting. I’ve seen our team here in Buffalo has signed a few already and you know I’m sure they’ll be more to come around the league. And you know that’s what you want as a hockey player. You want to play against the best, you want to play with the best, and you know we have that mutual respect.
I was saying earlier, you know although we may face each other internationally we have that respect. I know what they go through every day, the ins and outs of what it took for them to get here and I’m excited. Like I said, a lot of our team Team Canada players played with US players, whether it was in college and whatnot. So, there’s a pretty good familiarity between us already. I am excited to play against US players and play with them as well. I’m sure you know and practices. That’s what you look for. You want the best out of each other.
Check out the full June 29th newsletter, including my thoughts on #OneLeague