The Peoria Rivermen of the SPHL have cut two-time Olympic gold medal winner Shannon Szabados from their team after a pair of losses to open their season, reported the Peoria Star Journal.
The Rivermen, who finished at the top of the league during the regular season in the 2015-16 season, lost by a margin of 11-2 in a pair of games against the Huntsville Havoc. Szabados played once in relief of Storm Phaneuf on October 21, allowing two goals in that appearance. The following day, she let in three goals on nine shots in her first start for Peoria before getting yanked in that contest.
Phaneuf, an SPHL rookie, was also cut from the team, according to the Journal Star. Also gone from the team is top defender Carl Nielsen, who indicated to the team that if Szabados was leaving, he was too. He has been indefinitely suspended by Peoria.
"I told him we were letting her go, and he said he would like to stay with the team, really liked it here," Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel told the Star Journal. "He talked to Shannon and then came back in and said he decided to leave with her.
"We wanted to keep Carl, and we would also be willing to accommodate him with a trade. But he wants to play wherever Shannon plays. So both are gone."
Replacing Szabados and Phaneuf are Tyler Green and Matt Grogan, two goaltenders who were previously cut during preseason camp.
The Rivermen did not play in any preseason games, which Trudel said was part of the reason behind the sudden and unexpected decision- they did not have time to adequately asses the goaltending situation before the regular season began. He also said that they likely wouldn’t be the only players leaving. Regardless, the whole thing seems sudden and... odd, to say the least.
This also leaves Szabados without a team to play for in the immediate future, which isn’t great news for a goaltender who has expressed her desire to play in the 2018 Olympics.
We have reached out to the Peoria Rivermen about the situation and should have more on the decision. Check back for updates.