St. Paul, MN – June 15, 2017 – The final registration report from USA Hockey has been released following last week’s USA Hockey Annual Congress and Minnesota Hockey has established a new record of 8 & Under (8U) players with 18,002. That number marks the second consecutive record-breaking year for Minnesota, which broke the previous record last season with 17,651. The total number of 8U players marks a fourth consecutive year of growth and the first time any state has boasted more than 18,000 8U players. The total helped USA Hockey establish a record as well, with 115,694 8U players gearing up across the country.
The 18,002 8U players includes 13,566 boys and 4,436 girls and is an increase of 351 players over 2015-16. As encouraging as the 8U number is, perhaps the most encouraging statistic is that Minnesota had its largest retention of 8U players over the past five seasons, more than doubling the retention rate from 2015-16 to 6.9%.
When inviting new players into the game of hockey, an emphasis is placed on attracting boys and girls younger than 8 years old, 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. Minnesota continues to lead the nation in retaining players at the 10U (91.3%), 12U (96.8%) and 14U (98%) levels.
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 and Minnesota Hockey including the USA Hockey 2 & 2 Challenge, Try Hockey For Free Days, the Little Wild Learn to Play program, the Total Hockey Gear Up Minnesota! Equipment Grant program, the Minnesota Hockey Pass the Puck grants and many other programs that are unique to individual associations.
“To realize that we have added almost 2,000 players to the 8U ranks in just four years is truly remarkable,” said Minnesota Hockey President, Dave Margenau. “The numbers show that not only are kids excited about joining the hockey family, but our dedication to the Minnesota Development Model focused on age-appropriate training is keeping kids in the game. With the continued efforts of our amazing local youth hockey volunteers, as well as our tremendous partners, we are committed to continued growth and inclusion of more kids of all backgrounds.”
In April, Minnesota Hockey awarded the Total Hockey Grow the Game awards to Hallock and Mounds View-Irondale. 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.