September 24, 2012
For the second year in a row, Toronto’s Emma Korbs was invited to Canada’s Under-18 national women’s hockey team try-out camp held this August in Calgary. This time around, after the camp and exhibition games against Norway and Kazakhstan, Emma was one of 22 girls selected to play on the U18 team in a three game series against the United States from August 17-19 in Minnesota.
The Canadians won the series 2:1 taking the first and third games. The victory wasn’t easy and the deciding game ended in a tie going to a shoot-out. Emma plays defence and picked up an assist in the first game.
Emma is 17 years old and during the regular season plays with the Toronto Aeros junior team in the Ontario Provincial Women’s Hockey League. Every now and then schedule permitting, she also plays with Toronto Latvian amateurs against Lithuanians and Estonians. With the start of the hockey season, Canada’s national team coaches will be following Emma and other players to help make the decision who gets to go to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s U18 women’s championship hosted by Finland in January 2013.
Making the U18 national team is a major accomplishment. Canada has almost 86,000 registered women’s hockey players of all ages. Their archrivals the United States have almost 66,000. The two countries are the top two in women’s hockey. By comparison, Latvia has only 77 registered players.
Emma is a third generation Latvian-Canadian. Her family lives in Toronto and is active in the Latvian community. Emma is in the last year of high school and according to her parents Jānis and Inese Korbs, over 20 leading NCAA colleges from the United States are offering Emma academic scholarships in an effort to convince her to play hockey for their school. The family spent part of the summer visiting several American universities and will continue making the rounds before coming to a final decision. Emma comes from a hockey family and her brother also played Junior A hockey in Ontario but has hung up his skates and is now pursuing academic studies.
Viesturs Zariņš lives in Canada and is a periodic contributor to Latvians Online. He was a member of the World Federation of Free Latvians executive board from 1991 through 1999 and a board member of the Latvian National Federation in Canada for 10 years, including three years as its president.