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Shannon Szabados joins men’s pro hockey team

Mar 7, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

Shannon Szabados AP

Shannon Szabados got a call from a Southern Professional Hockey League team on Thursday. The message?

Suit up for the Columbus Cottonmouths.

“I haven’t told anyone this yet, but I got a call today from a team in the Southern Professional Hockey League to go play there for the rest of the season,” Szabados told Sportsnet 590 The Fan radio Thursday night. “I might be a step ahead of myself, but who knows, I might be in the U.S. starting next week.”

Sure enough …

Canada’s No. 1 women’s goalie is set to play in a men’s professional league. Szabados, 27, practiced with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday as the NHL team was short on goalies after trades.

The Cottonmouths have eight games left in the regular season, beginning Friday and wrapping March 22.

Szabados started the last two Olympic gold-medal games, winning both, and was statistically the best goalie in Sochi. Szabados played with boys growing up in junior hockey since age 5 and then with men at the university level as recently as last year.

Canadian 1998 Olympic goalie Manon Rheaume is the only woman to play in the NHL, doing so in exhibition games. Other women’s players have played in non-NHL men’s pro leagues, such as Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser.

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