The recent state high school hockey tournament appearances of Greenway, New Ulm, North Branch and others may have come as a surprise to many. But for grassroots volunteers who helped produce spikes in 8U membership 10 years ago in those communities, it was not a surprise at all.
It was the fruit from the harvest.
Which makes us wonder: Can 8U membership data predict state tournament appearances?
Obviously, there are numerous factors involved in teams qualifying for state, but no one can argue that building the base of the pyramid is a critical component. Therefore, the purpose of this article is purely for fun and to highlight exciting trends in communities around the state.
“You have to get right down to the grassroots of the program to the Mini Mites,” long-time Greenway hockey volunteer Pat Guyer said after their state run. “If you don’t have that base built, it falls apart. You have to develop as many kids as you can. Concentrate on creating numbers and keeping numbers. It’s easy to say but tough to do.”
These state tournament predictions are solely based on recent surges in total 8U (boys and girls) membership relative to each hockey association’s numbers the past couple decades and are based on current boys section alignments.
For access to the data used in this article, as well as a full breakdown of girls vs. boys, new players, etc., check out USA Hockey's membership reports for 2018-19 and past seasons.