Minnesota breaks both state, national record for 8U hockey player participation
For the first time in history, over 19,000 kids played 8U hockey in the state of Minnesota this past year
ST. PAUL — For the first time, Minnesota had more than 19,000 players in 8U hockey programs in 2021-22.
There were 19,079 players registered, which includes 13,631 boys and 5,448 girls, according to a press release from Minnesota Hockey.
The total number of players increased by 12.2% over 2020-21 and almost 8,000 kids were playing the sport 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," Minnesota Hockey president Steve Oleheiser said.
The organization credits the record breaking growth to programs like the USA Hockey Hat Trick Growth Challenge, Try Hockey For Free Days, the Little Wild Learn to Play, New Family Mentor program and the Minnesota Wild's Hockey Is For Me.
Dick's Sporting Goods 'Gear Up Minnesota' Equipment Grant and Minnesota Hockey's Pass The Puck Grant are also credited with helping break the record as well.
Two communities were awarded with the Dick's Sporting Goods Grow the Game award this year for their work in showing growth while working on new recruiting and retention initiatives included the Eagan and Proctor youth hockey organizations.
"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 form the BIPOC community, to Minnesota Hockey," Oleheiser said.
By increasing participation at the 8U level, growth is likely to be seen in future years in older age groups as well.
There were 58,666 players of all ages geared up with Minnesota hockey this past season.