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Minor-league Cottonmouths sign goalie from Canada's women's Olympic team

By John Vogl

Whenever I think of a true hockey player, I think of two guys -- Chris Drury and Jerome Bechard. You certainly know about Drury. Who's Bechard, you're likely asking?

He was the captain of the Columbus Cottonmouths when I covered the Georgia minor-league team for two seasons. He led by example and intimidated/irritated opponents by any means necessary. He could score in his prime and penalty-kill from the beginning of his career to the end. His original teeth turned to sawdust while blocking a shot, yet it never stopped him from diving in front of a puck.

He's still the face of the Snakes as the coach and general manager. He's also making international news today.

Beesh has signed Canadian Olympic goaltender Shannon Szabados. In case you can't tell by the name or missed her collecting two gold medals, Szabados is a woman. She will be the first to play in the Southern Professional Hockey League, but it won't be her first time competing against men.

Szabados played collegiately at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with two Columbus players and practiced with the Edmonton Oilers last week.

"I am very excited to get a world-class athlete that has competed and has faced high-pressured situations," Bechard said in a statement. "Shannon has won at every level she has played, in women’s hockey or men’s hockey. She won a championship with NAIT last year alongside Andy Willigar and Jordan Draper, so I know she can compete at this level.

"We are working on her immigration, and we are looking to sign her officially Thursday, where she will be backing up. She will play when she feels comfortable and situated."

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

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