Coming off a third straight Isobel Cup Final appearance, the Beauts have signed multiple free agents in the past month to help improve their hockey team.
However, they have made perhaps their most significant signing of the offseason. On Wednesday, the team agreed to terms with two-time Olympic gold medalis Shannon Szabados, who will be making her NWHL debut next season.
In the team’s press release, Beauts General Manager Nik Fattey spoke about the signing, saying “this is a monumental signing for our team and the NWHL, and we cannot wait to see [Szabados] in a Beauts jersey.”
Fattey added that “her international pedigree and unprecedented success in men’s leagues demonstrate the quality play she’ll bring to our crease this season.”
Two-time Olympic gold medalist.
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) June 27, 2018
Most recently playing for Team Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, North Korea, the three-time Olympian won the gold medal in 2010 and 2014 before the U.S. beat Canada for their first gold medal in two decades.
In PyeongChang, Szabados played in three games, allowing only four goals and compiling a save percentage of .949, and was named the best goaltender of this year’s Olympics. Through three Olympics in her career, she has earned an overall record of 8-1-0.
During her career, she has also participated in four IIHF World Championships, winning gold with Canada in 2012 and finishing silver on three different occasions (2011, 2013 and 2017). Along with her stellar reputation in international play over the last decade, she has also played in the Southern Professional Hockey League, which is based in Huntersville, North Carolina.
In her first full SPHL season in 2014-15, Szabados finished the year as one of the league’s top goaltenders, ranking in the top 10 in many prominent qualities, which include wins (T-7th), saves (9th) and save percentage (10th). The next year, she also made history in being the first female goaltender to post a shutout in a men’s professional league, stopping 33 shots against the Huntersville Havoc on Dec. 26, 2015.
With her signing, the goaltending for the Beauts has gained a ton of experience and will surely help this team going forward into next season. After last year’s starter Amanda Leaville signed with her hometown team, the expansion Minnesota Whitecaps franchise, adding a accomplished veteran in Szabados could help make Buffalo a favorite to win their second Isobel Cup in three seasons.