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USA Hockey sets 8-and-under participation record for third straight year

Tennessee native Paulina Doughtie puts program over top as 115,695th player

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / NHL.com Staff Writer

USA Hockey has something else to celebrate on Hockey Weekend Across America.

Paulina Doughtie of Antioch, Tennessee, was the 115,695th child to participate in the 8-and-under hockey program for USA Hockey, setting a single-season record for participants in the program.

The age group set a record for participation for the third straight year and is on pace for season-over-season player participation increases in the youth and girls classifications.

"Hockey continues to grow at every level in the United States, and as our participation numbers indicate, the best is yet to come as these young players continue to play, love and excel," said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. "With initiatives like Try Hockey For Free Day and our American Developmental Model welcomping more and more young players to the sport, the sky's the limit for hockey in the US."

Doughtie got involved playing hockey through the Predators' Get Out And Learn! (GOAL) program. The Predators offer the free four-week introductory program for 4- to-8-year-olds at the Ford Ice Center each year.

"I just really like hockey," Doughtie told NHL.com. "I tried it out and really liked it and did more of it."

Hockey was Paulina's first athletic venture, and she is usually more interested in reading and drawing, but when she fell in love with hockey after attending her first Nashville Predators game with her dad.

"It seemed like she was excited about [hockey] from Day 1," David Doughtie said. "I tried to push other sports on her, and she wasn't interested. But when I told her about GOAL, she was all about it."

The Predators were ecstatic to see a Tennessee native help set the record for USA Hockey and that she got her start through one of their youth initiatives.

"We are so proud of our very own Paulina Doughtie for breaking such a fun record," Nat Harden, Predators senior vice president of ticket sales and youth hockey, told NHL.com. "The GOAL program that Paulina got her start in has been one of our greatest assets for young athletes and is a proven path to success for youth in Middle Tennessee to work towards their hockey goals."

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