Ahead of Four Nations, which starts today, Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the tournament via email. The current Buffalo Beauts goalie talked opposing teams, playing back home in Canada, and Team Canada!
Erica L. Ayala: The Four Nations Cup roster for Canada appears to have a nice balance of veterans, young players familiar with the Hockey Canada systems, and even some players making their senior team debut. As a veteran, does that change your approach to the tournament as a player and/or as a leader?
Shannon Szabados: The approach is usually the same because it’s the same almost every tournament, our talent pool is so deep that there is constantly players in and out of the line up and in and our of tournaments to give experience to all of our players and help them develop. It’s more an awareness of who those new players are and making sure they are comfortable both on and off the ice. That might entail and extra conversation or two at the hotel to get to know them better, or going over some systems on the ice, that way they are up to speed and feel comfortable in all aspects within our team.
ELA: If I’m not mistaken, this will be your first Four Nations Cup on home soil/ice since 2010. What are you most anticipating about the atmosphere in Saskatoon come next week?
SS: I was not aware of that so thanks for the fun fact!
I have however played a ton of games in Canada over the past few years while wearing the Red & White and the energy is always electric. Playing on home soil is something that never gets old and something we always look forward to as a team!
ELA: A match-up with the United States is always one to watch. However, I am curious your thoughts on the challenges Sweden and Finland bring as opponents.
SS: They are always contenders and two opponents we will never take lightly. Both teams have a lot of skill and good goaltending. They clog the middle a lot which disrupts flow and can be frustrating for teams to generate momentum. We have had a lot of good close games with them over the years so anytime we have the opportunity to play them we look forward to the challenge.
ELA: Now, back to the rivalry. The gold medal match in PyeongChang was just about as close as a gold medal game could be. At times in that game, both teams seemingly struggled to play within their system. For Canada, what will be the keys to playing a complete, Canadian-style of hockey throughout the Four Nations Cup?
SS: It is the start of another four year cycle so all teams will be sure to have new faces in and out of the line up, new coaching staff etc so for us it is just important to be on the same page and communicate. There is no doubt there will be some ups and down, it’s inevitable when starting fresh but our staff has done a fantastic job of laying the ground work for us so that when we come together in short term tournaments like this we are ready to roll out of the gates, there is no time to start from scratch, it’s all in from the get go. We started that in September at camp and everyone has bought in to be dedicated and ready to go physically and mentally the second we get together, there is no time to play catch up in tournaments like this.
Stick taps to Shannon for making some time to answer our questions. Be sure to follow along as she and Team Canada look to win gold in Saskatoon starting later this week. You can find the full Four Nations Cup schedule here.
Of course, we at The Ice Garden will have plenty of coverage, including a special Facebook Live edition of the Top Shelf podcast with Hannah Bevis and Michelle Jay.
Finally, here are some Team Canada updates ahead of the tournament:
- Victoria Bach was added to the 4 Nations Roster
- Kristin O’Neill and Jamie Lee Rattray added to the Hockey Canada Roster to replace Sarah Potomak and Emily Clarke.