Why wasn't Shannon called?

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

The best available backup goalie was here -- and she was a girl.

But the Edmonton Oilers apparently have no sense of sensibilty.

Seldom does such a gold- plated opportunity come along for a 30th-place team in a Canadian market to do the right thing.

And they couldn't see it.

Either that, or they didn't want the hockey world making fun of them for dressing a woman for a game.

I'm not sure which is worse.

The latter, I think.

Either way, Shannon Szabados should have been the one the Oilers called to solve their backup goaltending problem when Devan Dubnyk came down with the flu prior to Tuesday night's game with the Vancouver Canucks.

"It's brutal," said the Olympic gold medallist who could have been part of the same game as the other national netminder, Roberto Luongo, even if she didn't actually get to play in it.

"I'm just so disappointed," Szabados said. "It's the story of my life, being a girl goaltender. They don't give you the opportunity. That shows you right there."

After a morning of madly trying to find somebody to sit at the end of the bench while Jeff Deslauriers played, the Oilers' search ended 300 miles south with the third- string goalie of the University of Calgary Dinosaurs.

Nathan Deobald hadn't played a game all year for the Dinos until starter Dustin Butler was injured and regular backup Jeff Weber was tossed from the same game -- the first game of the playoffs against the U of A Golden Bears -- with 18 seconds remaining.

Deobald played in the second game.

Szabados has played her entire career -- other than the international games this year -- against men. There would likely not be much debate about whether she was as good a goalie as the third- stringer from Calgary.

"Yeah, you'd think so," she said. "Instead, they had to fly him up when I was right here in Edmonton. Story of my life."

Szabados didn't get a call from the Oilers during their mad scramble to put a uniform on somebody.

"I think I got calls from everyone else," she said, refewrring to the media.

Rick Olcyzk headed the Oilers' search for a backup.

"First we looked at our farm club, but we couldn't get Bryan Pitton here until 10:30 p.m. Then we looked at the juniors. But the Oil Kings season is over and none of the goaltenders are in town.

"We couldn't use Torrie Jung again," he said of the Oil Kings' goaltender who was signed to an amatuer tryout contract earlier this year when Nikolai Khabibulin was injured.

"There's a rule that this is a one-time sort of thing. Even if he was available, we couldn't use him again.

"We wanted to go local. We called the U of A, but the Golden Bears plane had just left for the nationals and they took all three of their goaltenders.

"So we looked to Calgary. We couldn't use Weber because he had previous pro experience. And Butler was injured. I was sweating."

Olcyzk said he didn't "get down the list" past juniors and CIS goalies.

When asked if Szabados was on the list, he said: "Who knows what this day would have turned into if Nathan hadn't made it here?"

One theory being bandied about was that the Oilers didn't think Szabados was big enough to fit their equipment, and that her equipment wouldn't be allowed because it wasn't NHL approved.

That was the case when the Oilers brought up Jung from the Oil Kings and he couldn't wear his junior gear.

But when the alleged five-foot-nine Deobald showed up on the ice, it was obvious that measurement must have been taken with his skates on.

"He's shorter than I am," Szabados said. "And all my equipment is NHL regulation. It was measured and approved for the Olympics. That had nothing to do with it."

Szabados is right to take this snub as an insult. In her hometown, from the team she grew up cheering for .

They owe her an apology.

And a game.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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