Section 1 - Mankato

8U Membership in 2018-19: 202

Mankato is steadily increasing its base, reaching the 200-mark twice in the past three years for the first time ever. That number is up from 139 kids in 2014-15, a 45% increase in just four years. Mankato East/Loyola and Mankato West High School have a good base to work with.

Section 2 - Orono

8U Membership in 2018-19: 203

Since winning the Class A state title in 2018, Orono is continuing to build a stronger association, with 8U membership rising from 121 in 2012-13 to surpassing 200 for the first time last year. If Orono opts up to AA like they’re doing with youth teams this year, keep an eye on Delano as they’ve had the best three year stretch of 8U numbers in program history.

Section 3 - Marshall

8U Membership in 2018-19: 76

The opening of Red Baron Arena and efforts of grassroots volunteers have driven 8U membership to a record 76 kids, up from 31 dating back to 2011-12, including an increase of 25 players last year alone. The Tigers made a surprise run in 2013 – their first-ever trip to state – and they’re putting in the work to be long-term contenders.

Section 4 - Mahtomedi

8U Membership in 2018-19: 221

The past five years, Mahtomedi has seen a surge in 8U numbers with a 32% increase since 2012-13. The Zephyrs have set records the past two seasons with 207 and 221 8U players, respectively. Six trips to state in the last 10 years and they’re not going away anytime soon.

Section 5 - Chisago Lakes

8U Membership in 2018-19: 134

Chisago Lakes 8U hockey reached new heights in 2018-19, its sixth consecutive year of growth. Numbers have increased by 72% since 2013-14 (78 kids). With a state tourney appearance in 2014, the Wildcats are hungry to build a long-term winner.

Section 6 - Sartell

8U Membership in 2018-19: 138

Sartell has registered five consecutive seasons of 8U growth, from 85 kids in 2013-14 up to 138 one year ago. The Sabres have never made it to state but are growing for the future. Perennial power Alexandria will be a tough out as they’ve seen consistent growth as well. The biggest surprise of the section could be Wadena as they’ve seen a significant uptick in 8U numbers the last three years, posting 70, 100 and 71 8U registrants, respectively. These are double and even triple the community’s average numbers dating back to 2000-01.

Section 7 - Hibbing

8U Membership in 2018-19: 102

Hibbing registered more than 100 8U players in two out of the last three years. Prior to that, the last time they broke 100 8U players was in 2005-06. And 10 years later, the high school team went 22-3 and lost in the section final. It will be tough to knock off three-time state champion and perennial power Hermantown, but Greenway proved it is possible last year. Another team to watch: Proctor. The opening of the beautiful new St. Luke’s Sports and Event Center, along with tireless volunteers, have seen 8U numbers nearly double in just three years, from 41 to 76.

Section 8 - East Grand Forks

8U Membership in 2018-19: 110

East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls and Warroad will once again be the heavy hitters, with a slight nod Green Wave. The feel-good story of Section 8 in 2030 though may be its depth as Crookston, Detroit Lakes, Hallock, Lake of the Woods, Park Rapids and Red Lake Falls have all been at or near record high 8U numbers the past couple of years.