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

A youth hockey player from Proctor, Minn.
Sydney Wolf / The Rink Live

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.


The sophomore defender announced her commitment after a successful season with the Skippers that ended in a Class AA second-place finish.

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.

Related Topics: YOUTH SPORTS
Sydney Wolf is a reporter for The Rink Live, primarily covering youth hockey. She joined the team in November of 2021 and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric Studies and was a part of the University Honors Program.
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