St. Paul, MN – June 29, 2022 – The final registration report from USA Hockey has been released following USA Hockey Annual Congress and Minnesota Hockey has established a new record of 8 & Under (8U) players with 19,079. That number marks the first time Minnesota has surpassed the 19,000 8U player mark. The total helped Minnesota Hockey establish a record for total players as well, with 58,666 players of all ages gearing up across the state.
The 19,079 8U players includes 13,631 boys and a record 5,448 girls and is an increase of 12.2% over 2020-21. As encouraging as the 8U number is, perhaps the most encouraging statistic is that Minnesota had its largest number of new 8U players with 7,912 boys and girls suiting up for the first time.
“To set a new record for 8 & Under players, especially coming off the challenging pandemic year of 2020-21, is remarkable,” said Minnesota Hockey president, Steve Oleheiser. “As an organization, it is imperative that we keep the base of our pyramid as wide as possible and provide the opportunity for every child to try the sport. While we couldn’t be more excited to see the growth across the state, we know we have more work to do in welcoming many more families, in particular from the BIPOC community, to Minnesota Hockey.”
When inviting new players into the game of hockey, an emphasis is placed on attracting boys and girls ages 5 to 8, when the large majority of players try the sport. By increasing the number of players at the 8U age level, Minnesota Hockey associations are positively impacting the 9 to 14 age groups, thus supplementing long-term growth and success.
The future of the State of Hockey continues to look bright as more and more associations and families are taking advantage of growth initiatives provided by USA Hockey, Minnesota Hockey and the Minnesota Wild including the USA Hockey Hat Trick Growth Challenge, Try Hockey For Free Days, the Little Wild Learn to Play program, the Minnesota Wild’s Hockey is for Me program, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Gear Up Minnesota Equipment Grant program, Minnesota Hockey’s Pass the Puck Grants, the New Family Mentor Porgram and many other programs that are unique to individual associations.
In April, Minnesota Hockey awarded the Dick’s Sporting Goods Grow the Game awards to the Eagan and Proctor youth hockey associations. This award is given to communities that have shown consistent growth while implementing unique recruiting and retention initiatives.
Associations that are interested in learning about new ways to increase participation should reach out to the Minnesota Hockey membership development committee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 651-602-5727.