You only have to look at the birth places of the participants in the upcoming CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game to see how hockey continues to grow across America. A total of 13 states are represented on the game’s 40-man roster, with traditional hockey hotbeds Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois leading the way with a combined 19 players. But the top rated prospect playing in the game is Seth Jones, a defenseman from Plano, Texas, who is already projected to go first overall in the 2013 Entry Draft. He’ll be joined on the blueline by another highly touted 2013 draft prospect, Scott Savage, who hails from San Clemente, California.
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USA Hockey topped the 500,000 player mark for the second consecutive year in 2011-12 with 511,178 registered players across the country. This is the highest number of players in USA Hockey history, surpassing the 500,079 who took part in 2010-11. A total of 37 states saw significant membership increases last season, including non-traditional hockey markets like Iowa (16%), Arizona (12%), Tennessee (12%), California (8%) and Georgia (3%).
Among all states, New York boasts the third-highest number of players in the country at 48,205, trailing only Minnesota (54,951) and Michigan (52,944). That’s a one percent increase over last year, but slightly under the national growth rate of 2.12 percent. (Michigan was the only one of the top three to decrease from the previous season, dropping from 54,251 in 2010-11.)
New York also ranks third in girls’/women’s hockey with 5,477 skaters, behind Minnesota (12,697) and Massachusetts (9,564). Female hockey numbers nationally were up 1.65 percent in 2011-12 with total membership increasing to 66,692.
From beginner programs through PeeWee, New York saw across the board growth last season. These age groups combined for a whopping 22,870 (47.4%) of the state’s total number of players in 2011-12 – an increase of 146 kids from 2010-11. These numbers mirrored the national totals, with USA Hockey adding 6,397 players ages 12 and under last season.
Kids aren’t the only rising stock in New York. Adult hockey players (19 and over) accounted for 13,134 – or 27.2% – of the state’s registrants last season. This was up 176 players from the previous year. On a national level, adult hockey numbers were up 4.05 percent last season to 155,756. (Here’s an odd fact: there are 12 registered USA Hockey players in Hawaii – all at the adult level.)
The only annual dip in New York’s numbers showed up in the Bantam and Midget classifications. According to USA Hockey’s final 2011-12 registration reports, New York’s numbers dropped in the 13-14 age group (5,382/-46); 15-16 (4,109/-151) and 17-18 (2,710/-49). The trend of declining enrollment with older players isn’t limited to New York. There were 702 fewer players (-2.33%) nationally in the 17-18 age group last season, and 1,208 less (-2.81%) in the 15-16 group.
But what would a youth hockey story be without mentioning the coaches and officials. There were 5,607 registered coaches (an increase of 168 from 2010-11) and 2,255 officials (down by six) in New York last season, bringing the state’s total USA Hockey membership to 56,067. On a national level, there were 58,825 coaches and 24,956 officials.