From playing in the inaugural Canadian Sport School Hockey League season to now playing against some of the best in the world, it has been a long journey for Rihards Marenis.
Marenis, 26, is currently competing with Latvia at the IIHF World Championship in Bratislava & Kosice, Slovakia. Through three games, the six-foot-one forward has scored once as his team sits with a 2-0-1 record.
This is a dream come true for the product of Riga, Latvia, who will be sharing the ice against some of the top players in the world such as Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Elias Pettersson, while shooting on goalies such as Henrik Lundqvist or Jacob Markstrom.
“I can not even describe what the feeling is like,” said Marenis. “I remember attending multiple World Championships as a fan when I was younger and dreaming about representing my country, playing on the same ice and on the same team as some of the players that are here representing Latvia this year, as well. It is truly an honour to be a part of this journey and participate in this mission of ours to shock the hockey world by, hopefully, beating some of the great teams that are here.”
Marenis attended the International Hockey Academy (IHA) from 2009 to 2011. In 15 games at the Midget Prep level, he registered 17 points (14-3-17), while also netting 33 points (27-6-33) in 10 Midget Varsity games.
After graduating from the IHA program, Marenis went and played two seasons in the NA3HL with the North Iowa Bulls, before attending and playing NCAA Division III hockey with Aurora University from 2014 to 2018.
This past season, Marenis made the jump to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), which some consider to be the second-best ice hockey league in the world. In 33 games with Dinamo Riga, he scored four goals and one assist.
“Making it to the KHL and playing in the league has been an unbelievable experience,” said Marenis. “I’ve had major setbacks in my career, to the point where I’ve planned to quit playing hockey. However, I am very grateful for everyone that has stuck by me and supported me to allow me to be where I am today.”