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Q&A with Shannon Szabados: In pursuit of her 3rd consecutive gold medal

Hannah Foslien / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Shannon Szabados is on the precipice of immortality.

Szabados enters PyeongChang 2018 with the chance to capture her third consecutive gold medal, leading Canada into battle against a series of opponents who are looking to dethrone hockey's juggernaut.

Ahead of the upcoming tournament, theScore's Arun Srinivasan caught up with Szabados and spoke to her about her leadership role with the team, along with the opportunity to become one of the greatest goalies of all time.

Srinivasan: You're entering your third Olympics for Canada, are there any unique challenges you anticipate while trying to secure your third consecutive gold medal?

Szabados: No, I don't really expect anything different than the other two times. I think this being my third time, it's probably a little easier on me, a little less stressful just because I know what to expect as far as getting over there, the village, kind of what the set up is going to be like, stuff like that. Looking forward to it, don't foresee anything too crazy that I haven't seen before.

Srinivasan: In what ways, if any, has the U.S-Canada rivalry evolved since you made your debut?

Szabados: I mean, it was pretty heated when I first came into the program. I think for me personally, for us as a team as well, we love playing against them. Obviously, they're a good team. We played them quite a few times this year which I think fuels that rivalry a bit when you play someone so many times. Like I mentioned, they're a great team and neither one of us likes losing so that kind of adds to the fire as well.

It's been a great series playing against them this year and every time we get a chance to play them we want to put our best foot forward and give our best performance.

Srinivasan: You mentioned the familiarity with the U.S. Is there anything you're keeping an eye on specifically from them?

Szabados: Yes and no. I mean, I think each team has their own identity, they play a little different style than say, Finland or Russia. There's little things within the game but kind of at the same time, especially as a goalie, it's about reading and reacting. Not looking too much into how the other teams are playing, or what to look for. Just kind of stick to our gameplan.

Srinivasan: You were one of the top two goaltenders in the last two Olympics. Have you considered what another strong tournament and gold medal would mean for your legacy as one of the best goalies of all time?

Szabados: No, I haven't really thought about that (laughs). I mean, I don't even know what our schedule is next week so it's way too far to look ahead. I'm not too worried how it would look on me or anything. If I get the opportunity to play, obviously I would like to play well for the girls and bring home another gold, but just kind of taking it day by day right now and worrying about each and every time I step on the ice giving my best performance.

Srinivasan: I know you haven't participated in the Canadian Women's Hockey League, but do you feel the league has elevated the profile of women's hockey? Also, have you considered a move to the league?

Szabados: Yeah, I think it's definitely helped propel women's hockey. Obviously, there's a ton of great players playing in the league. I would think somewhere close to 90 percent of our team plays there. It's great to see women's hockey growing, it's great to see the two new China teams in the league expanding. Whether you're on social media or on TV, it always seems to be highlights of the CWHL which is great to see.

Who knows? Maybe down the road that'll be one of my future teams. I don't know. Again, like I said, I don't even know what I'm doing next week but it's definitely something I would consider.

Srinivasan: This is a pretty experienced group and you would be one of the leaders of the team this year. Is there any wisdom or experience you're trying to impart on the team as you get ready for the tournament?

Szabados: Yes and no. I think being one of the players that's been through it before, maybe just help with some guidance on what they can expect when it comes to the village or the living situation or what it's kind of going to be like over there. This centralized year for us, it's helped us but it's quite the grind. You know, a player like Ann-Renee (Desbiens), it's her first Olympic cycle so just making sure she's comfortable and ready and that everyone can focus more on the on-ice performance. I guess that would be my biggest role this year, making sure everyone's ready to go.

Srinivasan: Are there any players that we as a country, or across the world, should know about? Should we anticipate a breakout star from Canada or other countries this tournament?

Szabados: I think what you'll find with this team is we have a lot of depth. We have superstars like (Marie-Philip) Poulin and some standouts but I think just overall, no one really jumps out. We're so strong from No. 1 to our last ...

I mean, I say that we have three-four lines, but realistically we have an entire team that can roll. Same on the back end. (Laura) Fortino, I think, has a ton of skill and then, one of my favorite players is Jocelyne Larocque. Steady, stay at home D-man who probably doesn't get the recognition she deserves.

Srinivasan: Vancouver must've been special, 2014 must've been special as well. I guess every Olympics is different in its own way. What does this specific tournament mean to you from a career and personal standpoint?

Szabados: It's special. Obviously, like you said, Vancouver was pretty amazing with it being my first Olympics and being in Canada. Sochi was unbelievable. I'm getting a little older now so I'm not going to say it's my last one, but if it is, if it happened to be, then obviously I want to take the time to enjoy it and make sure I leave it all out there. In four years from now, if I decide to come back, we'll do it all over again. Each one is kind of special in its own way.

Srinivasan: Do you have a message for young women or anyone that looks up to you and the women's national team?

Szabados: Just maybe, thanks for the support along the way. For all the little kids watching - boys or girls - just kind of take it all in. If that's something that you dream of, then work hard and have fun and one day you can be in my skates.

(Get a behind-the-scenes look at Shannon's journey to PyeongChang as a Samsung Galaxy athlete here.)

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