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Columbus Goalie Looks to Slash Gender Gap in Hockey

PEORIA - Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Szabados is the first female player in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
PEORIA - Goaltender Shannon Szabados has had a busy Winter - she helped the Canada Women's Hockey Team take it's second gold medal at a Winter Olympics.

"I guess, a little more experience going in to that one," she said. "I had a little more fun with it. Again, an amazing experience."

All of that exposure earned her a call from the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

"It was a little sooner than I expected," she said. "I figured, if anything, it would have been next season. Happy to get the call and be here with the guys."

And become the first female to play in the SPHL.

She said, "I backed up my first game; it was the day after I got here. Two days later, I started my first game, and it was cool. They had "Szabados" shirts made already, so I saw a bunch of kids wearing them."

But she hopes, at some point, this doesn't have to be a story.

"Honestly, it felt like I've been here all year," she said. "The guys have been great. Yeah, just one of the guys."

This goalie wants to see more women playing hockey and eventually, more professional women hockey players.

"Even since I've been here, after every game, I've met at least a handful of families and little girls," she said. "There was one here, today, that came and watched me, and she wants to be a goalie. It inspires me to be a role model. Hopefully, it opens more doors for females in the future."

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