Random thoughts from a rambling sports mind

Catch You on the Rebound

By CURTIS J. PHILLIPS, Connect Contributor

PHOTO: On December 27, Shannon Szabados made hockey history for becoming the first woman to record a shutout in a men's professional hockey league when the Columbus Cottonmouths beat the Huntsville Havoc 3-0. Photo by COLUMBUS COTTONMOUTHS

PHOTO: On December 27, Shannon Szabados made hockey history for becoming the first woman to record a shutout in a men’s professional hockey league when the Columbus Cottonmouths beat the Huntsville Havoc 3-0. Photo by COLUMBUS COTTONMOUTHS

I chatted recently with Shannon Szabados, who back on December 27, 2015, made hockey history for becoming the first woman to record a shutout in a men’s professional hockey league – Southern Professional Hockey League – after the Columbus Cottonmouths beat the Huntsville Havoc 3-0.

Szabados, who had 33 saves in the historic first, is no stranger to Fort McMurray fans as she became the first female to suit up in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (Fort Saskatchewan Traders and Sherwood Park Crusaders 2002-2007) and had a few standout games in goal against our very own Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

In fact, it is a former Oil Baron, Kyle Johnson (2006-2009), who Szabados credits with speaking the words that cemented the fact that she had reached her dream… playing professional hockey.

Teammates – while with the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference NAIT Ooks (2011-2012), Johnson would sign with the Cottonmouths for the 2012-2013 campaign.

A year later Szabados, who has been a member of Canada’s Women’s National Team with gold medal status at the 2014 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Sochi, Japan and Vancouver, B.C. respectively, would sign with the Cottonmouths on March 7, 2014.

 “He looked at me, and said: “Well, you are a professional now. Welcome.” That is what player’s dream of their entire careers. To become a professional.”

Szabados recalls stepping onto the ice for the first practice at the Columbus Civic Centre in Georgia, “There was definitely some butterflies. But there was also a familiar face to help me out with Kyle Johnson.

“He looked at me, and said: “Well, you are a professional now. Welcome.” That is what player’s dream of their entire careers. To become a professional.”

Fort McMurray’s Brad Mueller had a cup of coffee with the Cottonmouths in 2000-2001 playing seven games.

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A friend asked me the other day, “What sport is the worst to be a professional in?”

Without hesitation, I replied: “Professional Wrestling.”

In the 80s, Calgary Stampede Wrestling made several stops here in Fort McMurray and being of similar age to majority of the wrestlers, I became friends with a few of them, having them over to the house for a few drinks and conversation.

The highlight was being a guest referee for a Battle Royal event.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of their strange and brutal business, majority of them are now dead.

Owen Hart (34), Brian Pillman (35), Davey Boy Smith (39) and Chris Benoit (40) while Mike Shaw, aka Norman the Lunatic and Bastion Booger in WWF (53), Goldie Rogers (61) and Bad News Allen/Bad News Brown (63) had some extra years.

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Keyano Huskies Athletics are showcasing three Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid signed Edmonton Oiler’s jersey’s framed in the lobby of the Syncrude Sport & Wellness Centre and they can be yours if your bid is the highest.

Keeping with the Huskies, former men’s volleyball star Alwyn Piche, two-time Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Player of the Year in 2009 and 2013, saw his hometown La Loche, Saskatchewan in the international spotlight as a 17 year-old male suspect was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, while injuring seven other people.

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Congrats to Fort McMurray Monarchs running back Melvin Abankwah who signed recently with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  A sixth round, 50th overall, pick in the 2015 Canadian Football League draft, Abankwah was a standout at St. Mary’s University rushing in 2014 for 534 yards on 112 runs in seven appearances.

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Thanks to a Canadian Mental Health Association of Wood Buffalo fundraiser recently held, 20 lucky people had lunch with Canadian sports hero Clara Hughes. Hughes won four medals in cycling at the Summer Olympics and two medals in speed skating at the Winter Olympics.

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It was 21 years ago that former Norfort Gymnastics Association member Seymin Lau was named a Big 10 All-Conference selection in gymnastics, while attending Ohio State.

Montreal Canadiens Alumni Tour skating into the Casman Centre on March 6. 2016. Although not a skater or hockey player of any fashion, I had a chance to play against various NHL Old-timer units over the years and it was always a hoot. For tickets, call 780-743 -5509. Your chance to see legends that may include: Steve Shutt, Stephane Richer, Richard Sevigny Gaston Gingras, Steve Penney, Gilbert Delorme, Mathieu Dandenault, Rick Green, Normand Dupont and Jocelyn Lemieux.

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Mical Dyck continues to shine for Canada on the international Cyclocross scene with an 18th place finish at the recent Sixth World Cyclocross Cup held in France.

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Congratulations to Keyano Huskies Athletes of the Month for January 2016, Nicole Robinson from women’s volleyball and Brady MacKay from men’s basketball.

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Shane Dawson Jr. was named co-winner of the Canadian Baseball Network minor league Canadian Pitcher of the Year! He had 120 strikeouts for the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts. He also became Fort McMurray’s first athlete this past summer to win a gold medal at one of the major world multi-sport competitions as a member of Canada’s men’s baseball champion from the 2015 Pan-Am Games held in Toronto.

Bowmans Martial Arts will be hosting a show on June 3, 2016 at the Casman Centre with Pro MMA, Amateur MMA and Kickboxing.

Rumour mill has it that pro wrestling will be coming back to town after a long, long hiatus. Last time they made an appearance, the main feature was Robert Maillet aka Kurrigan or the Acadian Giant who went on to film fame with spots in movies 300, Sherlock Holmes and the Sci-Fi TV series: The Strain.

Catch you on the rebound.

– Connect Weekly –