Dutch Pride

Stingers Rookie Blueliner Hopes to Help Lead Her Native Netherlands to the 2018 Winter Olympics

  • Photo Ion Etxebarria

  • Photo Ion Etxebarria

  • Photo Ion Etxebarria

When the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi get started in just under two weeks, Emily Even will be cheering Canada on like the rest of her Stingers women’s hockey teammates.

But when the Olympics end and the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship gets underway next April, Even won’t only be cheering a different country on—she’ll be playing for a different one, too.

A rookie defender for Les Lawton’s women’s hockey team, 19-year-old Netherlands-born Even will don her native country’s colours when she takes to the ice in the six-team IIHF Women’s World Championship Division 1 Group B tournament, to be held April 6 to April 12 in Latvia, for the chance to secure a spot in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The other teams competing in the group are China, Kazakhstan, Hungary, North Korea, the Netherlands and host Latvia.

Even, who was born in Leiden, a small town 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam, lived in the Netherlands until 2009, when she was 15. That summer, Even moved with her parents and three siblings to Canada.

“My father wanted us to come to Montreal and experience Canada for its culture and language to give us the choice later on in life whether we wanted to live in Canada or Holland,” said Even.

The transition wasn’t easy for Even, explaining that she was unhappy at first and had trouble adjusting to life in Canada. Even said it was only in Grade 10 at Westmount High School that she began forming close friendships.

But it wasn’t until the following year, when she transferred to Lower Canada College in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, that Even finally adopted her new home as her own.

“After coming to LCC for Grade 11, I realized that I loved it here [in Canada] and that I wanted to stay,” said Even.

The last European-born hockey player for either one of Concordia’s two hockey teams was Cecilia Andersson.

The Swedish-born goaltender suited up for the Stingers from 2003 to 2006, when she represented her native country in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Even hopes she’ll get to do the same in 2018.

“Right now, the Netherlands are 16th worldwide when it comes to world ranking in women’s hockey,” explained Even.

“And the top seven [ranked] teams go to the Olympics; if we win [the tournament in April] we can move up in the rankings fast.”

An appearance in the 2018 Olympics would be a first for Even (and her country), who began practicing for the Dutch national team at the tender age of 12 and officially joined the roster when she was 14 years old, playing her first game in a tournament held in France.

“In Holland, there are only 15 real hockey clubs,” said Even.

“But the players are all very dedicated to the game, they really want to be there—playing for my home country is still such a huge experience.”

Even holds dual-citizenship from both the Netherlands and Canada, something she’s made the most of. Despite living on the western side of the Atlantic, she was still invited annually to represent her home country in international tournaments.

In 2011, she was part of the Dutch team that went to Australia for that year’s IIHF World Championship and took home the gold medal against the host team.

The following year she joined the team in England for the tournament’s 2012 edition, and last year, in France, helped lead the team to a silver-medal finish in the competition.

Even has also played in exhibition tournaments in the Czech Republic and Germany, among other places.

Life in Montreal

After graduating high school from LCC in 2011, Even moved south of the border to play two seasons at a prep school in Millbrook, New York, where she held the title of team captain.

Upon completing her studies there, she decided to return home to Montreal and enrolled in Concordia’s Leisure Science program.

Concordia was a natural choice for Even.

“It was very close to home and they had the program I wanted and a brand new rink,” said Even.

“They also had a strong hockey program, so it was a win-win-win.”

For Stingers veteran Jaymee Shell, Even is a welcome addition to the team.

“She’s a good teammate and she brings a positive energy to the room and to our team,” said Shell.

“She has a shot that other goalies should fear and I like her style of play.”

Still just in her first year with the Stingers, Even has many high aspirations that she hopes to accomplish throughout her time sporting the Maroon and Gold.

“It would be pretty cool to be named All-Canadian at least once,” said Even.

“I’d like to be a good, solid and consistent defence. And obviously I’d like to complete my bachelor’s [degree] too.”

Despite having settled in Montreal Even still holds onto her Dutch pride, and has scored in every world championship she’s played in while wearing the orange and blue colors of Holland, a trend she hopes to continue this coming April.

“I really hope we can level up, and be able to compete at that level,” said Even.

“I hope I can play a major role and help contribute to my team.”

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