Szabados caps big week with tournament gold

Gold again for Szabados

The fan voting tournaments that defined Icethetics' beginnings in 2007 are back! The new era debuted at the end of February with the launch of the 2014 Women's Olympic Goalie Mask Tournament.

The bracket featured the 14 goalies who saw action during the women's tournament in Sochi. More than 9,000 votes later, Icethetics readers have decided that Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados has the best mask in women's Olympic hockey!

Szabados defeated the United States' Jessie Vetter in the gold medal match-up with 52% of vote. Oddly enough, this is how the actual gold medal game went last month in Sochi.

In the bronze match-up, Finland's Noora Raty defeated Canada's backup Charline Labonte with a decisive 65% to round out the medalists.

Questionable Inclusion

Flip through the photos above to see more shots and more angles of Szabados' mask, which was designed by the prolific David Gunnarsson. Despite the win, though, I'm not so sure her mask should have been included in the first place.

The IOC has very strict rules when it comes to the designs permitted on Olympic goalie masks. Corporate logos and political propaganda are banned. For example, Vetter was forced to remove images of the U.S. Constitution from her back plate. Yet Szabados clearly managed to skate by with a giant Toronto Maple Leafs logo on her bucket.

Sure, it's red instead of blue, but that is Toronto's shoulder patch logo by any other measure. It's a corporate trademark. Was it the alternate color that earned it a pass? Would the IOC have let Vetter's Constitution fly if it were pink?

Despite that, Szabados has a great mask and this victory was certainly deserving. Though my personal favorite was Molly Schaus' simple and clean USA design, but the American backup goalie was eliminated in the first round of the tournament by Vetter.

High Profile Week

Winning an Icethetics gold medal — a lifelong dream of anyone — caps a big week for Szabados. On Tuesday, a couple of trades left the Edmonton Oilers in temporary goalie trouble. They dealt Ilya Bryzgalov and acquired Viktor Fasth. But while awaiting Fasth's arrival, Ben Scrivens needed a backup. 

Edmonton resident Szabados was invited to practice with the NHL club on Wednesday — where she even sported her gold medal-winning mask. (I mean that both ways.) Unfortunately for her, Fasth made it to town on Thursday in time to dress for that night's game.

Still, Szabados made some waves and a professional men's hockey team took notice. She signed a contract with the Columbus Cottonmouths of the SPHL yesterday. She'll become the first woman to play in the Southern Professional Hockey League.

The Cottonmouths were founded in 1996 in the Central Hockey League. Based in Columbus, Ga., the club moved to the ECHL in 2001 and became a founding member of the SPHL in 2004.

Future Tournaments

I have no intention of slowing down on the tournaments. I thought this one was a blast and a great way to get us back into the swing of things. Here's a look at the other Olympic tournaments in the works:

  • Men's Olympic Goalie Mask Tournament
    Next up, we have to cover the men's side of the Olympics. First round polls will be posted later tonight or early Sunday at The winner will be decided by Mon., March 24.
  • Olympic Jersey Tournament
    This one's just unavoidable. Who had the best jersey at the Olympics? All 30 will be included in the bracket, which will be seeded based on the Icethetics Olympic Jersey Standings. This one will kick off Tues., March 25.

2014 NHL Tournament of Logos

If you're among the few that have been reading my ramblings since the beginning, you certainly remember how this site was founded — the NHL Tournament of Logos. In 2007, the Canadiens were crowned champion. In 2010, another tournament name the Blues the best. Will it be different in 2014?

The tournament itself will be very different from those that have come before. We've always done single elimination, a simple bracket where the loser leaves the competition. Not this time. It'll take two losses to knock any logo out of this one. 

Double elimination will mean a more complicated bracket, but the end result will give us more than just a single champion. I expect us to have complete ranking of all 30 logos. If this system works out, we'll keep it for future tournaments.

Also changing is the seeding process. Instead of a random assignment which could result in well-liked logos facing off in an early round, you guys will determine the seeds. I'll explain how that will work as we get closer. This tournament will coincide with hockey's biggest real-life tournament — the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April.

Hope you're as excited as I am for what's to come!