Late last week, USA Hockey released its annual player membership report that breaks down total memberships by state and age group. Over the years, I’ve used this report as a barometer to check on the overall growth or decline of hockey participation across the United States. Let’s break down the numbers.

Nationwide USA Hockey player memberships

Overall player memberships were up a modest 1.6 percent season over season, adding over 17,000 registered players during the 2022-23 hockey season compared to 2021-22. It is a positive sign that there was an increase season over season, but overall memberships have not fully recovered to pre-pandemic numbers.

Where hockey is growing

As we dig into the numbers a bit deeper, we can see that Colorado is the only state that saw double-digit percentage growth season over season. This is generally expected considering the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in June, 2022. Playoff success tends to create an influx of hockey memberships in the following season.

What is also fascinating is that Nevada had the largest decline season over season, down 7 percent from 2021-22. This is probably in part due to the Vegas Golden Knights’ failure to make the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history. We should expect a significant increase of memberships during the 2023-24 season in that market after the Golden Knights were crowned the Stanley Cup champions of 2023.

It should also be noted that the success of NHL teams is not the only way states see increases or decreases in their USA Hockey player memberships. Other factors may include the number of hockey facilities opening or closing, plus and the leadership and marketing capabilities of youth hockey organizations that can really drive growth or decline in player memberships.

If you look at the growth and decline by age group, you can see the seven-to-eight-year-old category had the largest increase season over season, but six and under saw the largest decline.

Female hockey continues to outpace overall memberships

Looking specifically at the female category, we see that the growth across female USA Hockey memberships is up almost 4 percent season over season. Over the last 10 years, female hockey has tended to be the most consistent contributor in the overall growth of USA Hockey memberships. Female hockey memberships represent about 16 percent of all USA Hockey player memberships per season.

When evaluating the female category by age group, all but the six-and-under age group saw substantial growth season over season.

Washington State USA Hockey members

As illustrated above, we saw that Washington state had the 16th-highest increase season over season from a percentage standpoint, but when we look at it by volume, we see Washington state had the eighth-highest growth with 473 additional hockey players enrolled in 2022-23.

Except for the pandemic season of 2020-21, Washington state’s player membership growth has remained consistent over the last 10+ seasons.

In terms of percentages, you can see growth up and down the age categories, but the largest volume growth was from the adult category. This also happens to be the biggest number of registrants.

Overall, the growth of USA Hockey memberships in Washington state is good news, but it is a bit underwhelming considering the Seattle Kraken are in just their second season in the state. As we have seen in other states, we should expect another growth spurt next season due to the success of the Kraken’s 2022-23 NHL season and playoff run.

Interactive dashboard

If you’d like to look at a state-by-state breakdown of the USA Hockey memberships, I’ve created an interactive dashboard where you can drill down by state. If you have any problems or have any questions, please let me know.

If you have questions, thoughts, or theories on the USA Hockey memberships, please leave them in the comment section.

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