Cora Dwyer, a 7-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, today became the 107,723rd 8-and-Under player to join USA Hockey in 2016-17, setting a single-season 8U participation record. It marked the second consecutive record-breaking season for USA Hockey in the 8U age classification.
“These are exciting times for hockey in the United States, and as our participation numbers indicate, the best is yet to come,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “It’s truly a credit to what I believe are the greatest volunteers anywhere, along with initiatives like USA Hockey’s American Development Model and Try Hockey For Free Days, which welcome young players to the sport and provide a safe and fun environment to enjoy the sport.”
USA Hockey is also on pace for season-over-season player increases at the 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 18U and adult age classifications.
“It’s terrific to see American hockey continue to grow, particularly at the entry level,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, “The growth is a credit to many, including our volunteers at associations all across the country; our partners at the NHL, its member clubs and NHLPA, through the Learn to Play program and other initiatives; and so many others that share in our vision to bring the great lifelong experience hockey offers to families in all corners of the U.S."
Both Dwyer and her younger brother, Neil, were introduced to the game through USA Hockey’s Try Hockey For Free Day before registering with the Little Pens Learn to Play program, an initiative of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. The Learn to Play program is a joint initiative of the NHL and the NHL Players Association, with support from USA Hockey. The Dwyers registered for the Little Pens Learn to Play program through the Steel City Ice Renegades youth hockey association, which earned gold status in USA Hockey’s 2 and 2 Challenge and is part of USA Hockey’s Club Excellence program.