According to USA Hockey there are over 500,000 youth hockey players across the country. It’s a figure that’s never been bigger. In Nevada, there are just about 1,200 skaters, a figure that needs to be higher. The Northeast, Midwest, and Great Lakes lead the US with a total 300,000+ U18 players in those regions. The cost to play hockey is one of the largest issues, one USA Hockey has worked hard with youth leagues across the nation to bring the price down.
Unfortunately, Las Vegas doesn’t have the luxury of backyard rinks, or pond hockey. We’re left with only a few real rinks, or street hockey. Nevada will ultimately have to adapt and aid the hockey explosion that will happen.
In 1993 the Anaheim Ducks played their first NHL game. Wait, sorry the “Mighty” Ducks. Just like here, at the beginning, the doubters came out of the woodwork. In the early years the Ducks practice facility was built just for them. Over time it became a place for youth/adult games, and where NHL players connected with Orange County hockey fans. That one facility turned into seven beautiful ice surfaces known as The Rinks. The seven complexes are sponsored and designed by the Ducks organization. Anaheim also partnered with 11 other local rinks. Altogether, there are 28 rinks from LA to San Diego.
In 2008 the Ducks created the Anaheim Ducks High School League with one high school. Now, 48 schools compete in the ADHSHL. The wildly successful league even urged northern rival LA Kings to create a high school league of their own in 2015. The best part about both leagues, is the financial support they get from the Ducks and Kings. Making hockey affordable for Southern Californian families. Something that must to happen here if the game is to grow at the speed we would like it to.
The growth is obvious in California, and I didn’t even bring up the Bay Area. Cali hockey has grown 36% in ten years, climbing upwards of 25,000 players. It’s really up to The Creator and his organization to accept their responsibility as ambassadors of the sport. Kids will want to score top shelf like their favorite blank Knight.
Not only UNLV but every level of hockey. That’s from the youth level to adult hockey, we’re going to have an explosion of hockey here. -Murray Craven, Senior VP
If the Las Vegas franchise sponsors rinks and leagues, equipment and ice costs become more affordable. Bringing costs down will easily grow the sport like it has in California. And is anyone still questioning hockey in the Golden State anymore? I don’t see why they would, California has hoisted the Stanley Cup more times than the entire country of Canada since 1993. Who knows after Vegas wins our first Cup, maybe we’ll say the West Coast has one more than Canada since ’93.
We can worry about the championship parade later, for now we’ll focus on youth development. The Summerlin version of The Rinks will bring the puck closer to Las Vegas’s youth, but it’s just a start. One building with two sheets of ice is great, but over time there needs those numbers must grow.