The IIHF released the results of a survey they did encompassing all 62 member countries regarding the number of registered hockey players in their systems.
The international government of hockey said that the number of players has increased by almost 40,000 since last year, an increase of almost 2.5%, bringing to the total world-wide to over 1.6 million players.
Canada leads the way with 625,152 players, followed by the United States with 510,279, Czech Republic with 107,722, Finland with 66,636 and Russia with 66,551 to round out the top five.
The other three constants in the hockey world (Sweden, Switzerland and Slovakia) carry these numbers:
Sweden - 64,214
Switzerland - 26,466
Slovakia - 9,230
It's interesting to note that Germany (34,256), France (18,041), Japan (15,474) and Austria (11,372) all have more registered players than Slovakia, even though none of those four countries have teams that are considered to be in the "Elite 8" group of hockey nations.
The five nations that have the least amount of registered players of the 62 member group are:
1. Andorra - 56 players
2. Liechtenstein - 87 players
3. FYR Macedonia - 126 players
4. Macau - 137
5. Thailand - 145 players
Andorra, FYR Macedonia and Macau all have one rink for their entire population. Thailand has 11 rinks. Liechtenstein? They have zero
. That's right, zero
. 87 hockey players and not a sheet of ice
to glide on. I'm not quite sure how that works, but they are part of the Internation Ice
Hockey Federation and, apparently, have 87 people who truly believe that they play ice
China and India, with a combined population of 2.5 billion people, have a total of 1,520 registered hockey players.
The host nation for the 2018 Winter Olympics, South Korea, has 2.016 players.
Hockey is on the rise around the globe and so are the programs that each country is implementing. That is evident by the increased competition at international tournaments each year.
Russia, in my opinion, has fallen out of the "Big 3", giving way to Sweden who now joins Canada and the United States at the top of the hockey nations. Switzerland has been on the rise for a few years now and had a great showing at the World Juniors this past season, winning a silver medal and impressing everyone in the hockey world while they did it.
As nations institute a better development system they will enjoy more success at international tournaments, thus increasing the number of registrants in the game. Word is spreading that hockey is great and more and more nations are seeing a spike in the number of people who want to play some puck.
You can check out the full list from the IIHF nations and their player numbers here:
The article from the IIHF website is here:
The article hits some highlight points from the survey about countries who are growing the fastest in comparison to the percentage of increase. It's good to see more people around the world picking up a stick.
That's all for now, thanks for reading!