The International Ice Hockey Federation has crunched the numbers of it's 62 member nations to show positive growth figures in hockey world wide.
There are now more than 1.64 million registered hockey players worldwide. That is up almost 40,000 or 2.5% over last year. More than 180,000 of those players are female - representing 11%.
On-ice officiating has also seen solid increases with more than a 5% increase to over 74,000 referees and linesmen.
One of the biggest reasons for the increases in players is an increase in facilities. There are now 7,036 indoor ice rinks (3.21% increase) and 7,893 outdoor rinks (3.39% increase) in the IIHF countries.
Here are some highlights of the study by country:
- Canada leads the way with 625,152 registered ice hockey players compared to 617,107 last year. More than 87,000 of those players are female.
- Canada has 2631 indoor rinks and 5000 official outdoor rinks. That is over 7600 rinks in the country. According to this study, there are only 1172 hospitals in Canada! There are over 3000 Tim Hortons stores.
- The United States, with their huge population, have more than 510,000 players, including nearly 66,000 females.
- The Czech Republic has become the first European country to have in excess of 100,000 registered players with more than 107,000 players, a strong 13.28% increase.
- Finland had an even bigger increase of nearly 18%. They now have 66,636 players.
- To round out the other big nations: Russia has over 66,000 players, Sweden over 64,000, Switzerland over 26,000, Slovakia over 9,000 and Germany over 34,000.
- China, the world's most populous nation, has only 610 players. 184 of them are women.
- Belarus is one of the fastest rising nations on the hockey scene, thanks to a significant increase in rinks in the last decade. The country had 14 rinks and 1,308 players ten years ago and has 33 rinks and 7,255 players now. That’s 84 per cent more compared to last year.
- Korea, hosts of the 2018 Winter Olympics, has shown a sharp increase in participation. They now have more than 2100 players, mostly at the youth level, which represents a nearly 29% increase over the previous year.