For the fourth consecutive season, USA Hockey has established a new single-season 8-and-Under participation record with Flint, Michigan, producing USA Hockey's 122,136th 8U player in 2018-19. The season total of 123, 303 marks the sixth-straight season in which USA Hockey has seen an increase in 8U participation.
Hayes, the record-breaking player this season, developed an interest in hockey through the participation and passion from family members. That interest grew by attending a Detroit Red Wings game at Little Caesars Arena - his first-ever NHL game - and shortly thereafter resulted in his enrollment in the Flint Firebirds organization located at Flint Iceland Arena.
USA Hockey is once again on pace for season-over-season player participation increases in youth and girls classifications as the results mark USA Hockey's ninth consecutive year exceeding 100,000 participants at the 8U level.
The combination of participation surges in both longtime hockey hotbeds and also in newer markets has driven the consistent growth. Measured by USA Hockey affiliate, Nevada showed the largest year-over-year 8U participation gains, increasing by 116%. Meanwhile, Minnesota (18,769), Massachusetts (13,320) and New York (12,771) posted the largest 8U participation totals by state.