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The Home Ice Advantage Keeps Growing

By Minnesota Hockey, 07/01/14, 10:00AM CDT

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The numbers are in for the 2013-14 season, and Minnesota tops the chart with the most hockey players of any state in the U.S.! With over 45,000 players under the age of 20, Minnesota would actually rank 5th in the world among all countries for U-20 players, trailing only Canada, United States, Russia and Sweden.

Even better news is that the number of players in Minnesota is once again trending upwards.  After a two year decline at the 8U level, Minnesota Hockey had a resurgence of new players in 2013-14, bringing in 510 (12.2%) more new boys and 236 (16.6%) more new girls than the previous season. Those numbers represented the largest new player increase seen over any of the last five seasons.

Significant growth was also apparent on the national level as USA Hockey set a new record for total registered players at 519,279.  The number of 8U players also grew across the country by 1,005 players, indicating the total membership will likely be growing for many years thanks to a larger base of players at the youngest levels.

Much of the growth over this past season can be attributed to the commitment of our local volunteers and community associations to spreading interest in hockey at the grassroots level. During the 2013-14 season, Minnesota set record numbers of host sites and participants for both the fall and winter Try Hockey For Free Days.  Nearly double the previous record of associations completed USA Hockey’s 2 & 2 Challenge.  Plus, Minnesota Hockey has helped fuel the frequency and effectiveness of local events through improved communications and the implementation of Growth Workshops across the state.

There are several other factors that play into the popularity of hockey in Minnesota, but here’s a closer look at a couple of the biggest reasons:

  • The Minnesota Model:  Our community based model has been shown for decades to be a critical component of getting more kids playing hockey at young ages as well as producing elite talent. A special thank you goes out to all of our city rinks and parent volunteers as they are the key to this model’s continued success!
  • Mutual Support:  Much like the communities our players grow up in, the hockey community is tight knit here in Minnesota.  Consistent communication and cooperation from organizations at the youth level to high school, all the way up to our college hockey programs and the Minnesota Wild provide our players with a number unique hockey opportunities and experiences that aren’t available in other parts of the country.
  • Gear Up Minnesota!:  Minnesota Hockey and the Minnesota Wild have provided an equipment grant program designed to grow the game since 2000.  With the help of Total Hockey, Gear Up Minnesota! was founded in 2010 creating the top grant program in country. In just four years, Gear Up Minnesota! has delivered an astounding $350,000 worth of starter equipment to associations in Minnesota to help fuel growth at the local level.
  • HEP & ADM: In 2004, Minnesota Hockey launched the Hockey Education Program (HEP) in an effort to ensure every kid playing hockey in Minnesota had a positive experience.  Since then, associations have committed themselves to principles, which are also engrained in the American Development Model (ADM), that focus on fun and skill development which helps fuel a lifelong passion for the game of hockey.
  • USA Hockey: The development of the USA Hockey Membership Development team has also played a huge role in the continued growth of hockey in Minnesota and across the country.  The design and expansion of Try Hockey For Free days, the 2 & 2 Challenge and related marketing materials are key resources for anyone that is passionate about getting more kids involved in hockey.

Minnesota Hockey would like to take this time to express its never-ending appreciation for the time, effort and money devoted by all of our parents, coaches, volunteers, partners and communities to making hockey in Minnesota one of the best youth sports experiences possible!

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