When you think of Long Beach, California you think of sun, sand, and warm weather not hockey. Even though Long Beach had a low level pro team, the Long Beach Ice Dogs, hockey is not a popular sport where surfing is the norm for many. One kid from Long Beach put hockey on the map for Southern California kids…meet first year pro 20-year-old Emerson Etem.
Emerson comes to Norfolk after a breakout year with his junior club the Medicine Hat Tigers that compete in the WHL. His last year with the Tigers, he put up an astonishing 107 points something that is still hard to do in a league that showcases young NHL prospects.
After the lights dimmed on the 2011-2012 season for the Tigers, Emerson was assigned to the then AHL affiliate of the Ducks, the Syracuse Crunch, to help in their post-season run. With the NHL owners putting a lock on the 2012-2013 season, the Ducks sent much of their young talent to Norfolk, Virginia home of the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. Emerson Etem was one of those sent to craft his skills in the AHL this season. Although Emerson has not played a regular season game in the NHL, he has played in exhibition games for the Ducks and mentioned that they’re level of play isn’t far off from here in the AHL.
When asked how a kid from Long Beach made it to the professional ranks, the 29th overall pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft replied, “ Hard work and parenting. I can’t thank my parents enough for all the hard work they put in for me. It’s a combination of a lot of things including good coaching and work ethic. For me it’s all about being a role model and a good example for kids from California and non – traditional hockey areas and just making a good example for them”. When talking about parenting the 6-foot right-wing said that his parents met at a rowing meet and his Mom was an Olympian. Emerson added, “That right there shows her character and my Dad’s character.”
Having just turned 20-years-old in June, Etem has already captured the bronze medal beside current Admiral teammate Kyle Palmieri in the 2010 WJC’s. Etem said, “Anytime you put on the USA sweater it’s a great feeling to do that. Two years in a row, I was very fortune to play along with Kyle Palmieri. We had a blast up there. We were able to capitalize on the bronze when we played on the team together. We didn’t have the start or the finish we wanted to, but never-the-less it was a great experience that I’ll never forget.”
Head Coach Trent Yawney gave his thoughts on Emerson Etem saying, “ He is in a group of young players that is going to learn on the job here. I think he got off to a slow start, but we had him last year in the playoffs against St. Johns and he was unbelievable and he played a very good series.” A good series it was for Etem personally who lit the lamp twice in four games against St. Johns.
Emerson has a bright future ahead of him if he keeps up the work ethic he has shown throughout his young career. When the NHL owners unlock the doors to the Honda Center, Emerson may be one of the current Admirals who will be summoned to Anaheim to play for the Big Club.
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