The Peoria Rivermen cleaned house on Monday, releasing Shannon Szabados just two games into the SPHL season. This comes just days after she made franchise history by being the first female to play in the organization.
Szabados, a veteran of the Canadian Women’s National team, joined the pro rankings back in 2014 with the Columbus Cottonmouths, where the 26-year-old appeared for three seasons and was the first female to compete in the league. This offseason, Szbados joined the Rivermen. Head coach Jean-Guy Trudel said at the time of the signing he was excited to have her.
“We want her here and it’s exciting to get her,” Trudel told the PJ Star.” The way we play defense in Peoria, and the types of players we have, I think she’s going to look a lot better with our team in front of her. I’m anxious to get her into camp and see how it goes.”
Just over a month later, Szabados is a free agent. Trudel cut both Peoria’s goaltenders after Szabados and Phaneuf combined to give up 12 goals in the club’s first two games. Defenseman Carl Nielsen was also suspended after leaving the team after learning Szabados was cut.
It’s a huge knee-jerk reaction by Trudel to cut both goaltenders after just two games, especially Szabados, considering her track record. Szabados went 5-11-5 with a 3.63 GAA last season which were deceiving numbers considering her impressive .910 save percentage. At the very worst, she’s a backup in the league. Peoria didn’t give her (or Phaneuf) a fair shake at winning the starting job.
Szabados and the Rivermen didn’t start the season as well as they’d like, but in no way does that mean she’s not SPHL caliber. I’d expect her to find a new home fairly quickly.