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Shannon Szabados re-signs with men’s hockey team

Shannon Szabados

COLUMBUS, GA - MARCH 13: Shannon Szabados #40 of the Columbus Cottonmouths smiles during a timeout as teammate Andrew Loewen #1 looks on at Columbus Civic Center on March 13, 2014 in Columbus, Georgia. The Pensacola Ice Flyers defeated the Columbus Cottonmouths 5-0. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

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Shannon Szabados, the two-time Canadian Olympic champion goalie, re-signed with the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths men’s minor-league hockey team for what could be a second full season.

Szabados, 29, opted to return to playing with and against men instead of joining the new National Women’s Hockey League.

“I was happy where I was last year with my team and the amount of playing time [in Columbus last season],” Szabados said, according to the Edmonton Journal. “We played 56 games in our league, and I started 25 of them. Me and my partner [Andrew Loewen] almost split the games last year, but he’s not returning.”

Szabados had a goals-against average of 3.12 and a save percentage of .907 in 25 games for the Cottonmouths last year. She ranked 11th and 10th, respectively, of 12 goalies in the league who played more than 13 games in those categories.

“We gave Shannon a chance and she did not disappoint,” Cottonmouths coach Jerome Bechard said in a press release. “She is kind, competitive, and an important piece to our team. Her success has helped suppress the negative phrase of ‘playing like a girl.’”

The Cottonmouths’ season opener is Oct. 23.

Szabados joins other Olympians -- including goalies Noora Raty and Manon Rheaume and skaters Hayley Wickenheiser and Angela Ruggiero -- to play in men’s hockey leagues around the world.

Szabados was the best women’s goalie in Sochi with a 0.96 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage in three games.

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