St. Paul, MN – June 12, 2018 – 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 18,839. That number marks the third consecutive record-breaking year, a fifth consecutive year of growth and the second straight year Minnesota has surpassed the 18,000 8U player mark. The total helped USA Hockey establish a record as well, with 122,135 8U players gearing up across the country.
The 18,839 8U players includes 14,030 boys and 4,809 girls and is an increase of 4.6% increase over 2016-17. As encouraging as the 8U number is, perhaps the most encouraging statistic is that Minnesota had its largest number of new 8U players with 7,053 kids suiting up for the first time.
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 (91.4%), 12U (96.7%) 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 Dick’s Sporting Goods Gear Up Minnesota! Equipment Grant program, Minnesota Hockey’s Pass the Puck Grants and many other programs that are unique to individual associations.
“To set another record at the 8U level really is astonishing and shows that the strength of hockey in Minnesota has never been better thanks to the incredible efforts of our local hockey associations,” said Minnesota Hockey President, Dave Margenau. “With the 2017-18 season being an Olympic year, we are hopeful that we’ll see an even bigger spike of new players this upcoming year, especially with how many young girls were inspired by our Gold Medal winning women.”
In April, Minnesota Hockey awarded the Dick’s Sporting Goods Grow the Game awards to Wadena and Cottage Grove. 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.