Free time precious for players

Free time is precious when you’re a member of Canada’s national women’s hockey team.

WHEN SHANNON SZABADOS isn’t busy stopping pucks for Team Canada

WHEN SHANNON SZABADOS isn’t busy stopping pucks for Team Canada

Free time is precious when you’re a member of Canada’s national women’s hockey team.

Shannon Szabados and Catherine Ward looked at each other and laughed when asked what they like to do during that time.

“For all of us we are all pretty active,” said Szabados, who is in Penticton with Ward for the national women’s team centralization boot camp. “I enjoy movies, going out for dinner. I’m married, so hanging out with my husband. June 30 will be our one year.”

Ward enjoys being outdoors, music and cooking. She cooks a lot and watches shows, especially MasterChef.

“It’s just fun,” said Ward of MasterChef. “I like to see the recipes. The way they are making everything. Just learning a few tricks.”

Life for members of the Canadian team is handled through time management and prioritizing, especially if school needs to be juggled with hockey.

With the Sochi Olympics coming up, life gets a little easier as hockey becomes their main focus.

“In the Olympic years, so this year a centralization year, hockey is our full-time job,” said Szabados. “Days like this from 7 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. we are at the rink or doing off-ice work outs. We all take a year off school, off work.”

While at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Szabados studied to become a personal fitness trainer. She began her physical education combined degree to eventually become a teacher. In her final year at NAIT, Szabados, a goalie for NAIT, went 6-0 and helped the Ooks men’s team win their first Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship. They edged the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans 2-1 in double overtime on March 24 to clinch in four games. She said there are similarities between winning that and an Olympic gold medal.

“Obviously the Olympic gold medal was on a much bigger stage, but for our men’s college team, that was our Olympics,” said Szabados, who finished that playoff with a 1.87 goals against average. “It was a pretty special feeling. Definitely up there in my win column as one of the most special.”

Szabados lists 2006 Conn Smythe trophy winner Cam Ward, who she has worked at a goaltending school with, as one of her favorite players.

When asked what she likes about Ward, Catherine Ward (no relation) whispers to her that it’s his last name. Szabados chuckles.

“He’s just a really genuine guy off the ice,” she said. “I like his style of play, very calming. The guys in front of him never get rattled because he’s such a calm presence back there. Something I’d like to try to model myself after.”

Like Szabados, Ward had a successful season, but in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League with the Montreal Stars. She helped the Stars win the Clarkson Cup in 2011-12, then this past season was named the CWHL Defenceman of the Year.

“It was pretty special. Looking at the calibre of athletes, the people I was competing against, it’s very gratifying,” said Ward, who scored once and collected 12 assists in 21 games. “I think I really appreciate that recognition.”

Ward joined the CWHL following a three-year career with the McGill University Martlets in which she won a national championship and one season with Boston University Terriers playing in the championship game of the Frozen Four. Ward wasn’t sure what to expect. She went from being busy with school and playing hockey to playing hockey but not every day, that was an adjustment.

“It’s a new lifestyle to try and figure out,” she said. “Having time off was kind of weird.”

Ward saw improvement in her second season as a pro.

“I worked hard off the ice. Even if we are not on the ice as much, we still have ice time,” said Ward, who started playing with boys at age five. “Get ice time with a skills coach. That helps and in small groups. Work on individual skills.”

As a rookie, Ward noticed the CWHL game was played at a quicker pace and the players are stronger. She said it’s getting comparable to the Olympic stage, but there are teams that don’t possess the same depth as others.

As for playing in the Olympics and winning gold, Ward said it’s hard to describe the feeling.

“When it happened I don’t think I realized what was going on,” said Ward. “I just remember looking up and trying to find my parents. It was just crazy. It took me probably a few weeks to realize what had just happened. We were so focused on what the goal was. When you are there and you actually win the gold it’s like this is it. It was amazing an hopefully we can do it again in Russia.”

Ward said winning gold can change a players life, but only in discovering that “you know you can accomplish whatever you want.”

“It’s doable and nothing is too big to dream of,” said Ward, who looked up to Scott Niedermayer.

With two more days off (Sundays are off days) until June 19, Szabados and Ward said what they do during that time depends on the individual. Ward stressed taking the opportunity to relax.

“You have to take time off to really re-energize yourself,” said Ward, who had never been to Penticton but said it is amazing. “You are ready for the week ahead.”














Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 Penticton-area men charged with Kamloops brothers’ double homicide

Brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May in Naramata

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read