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August 26, 2013 | 8:54am ET
Hockey growing worldwide

The International Ice Hockey Federation published its annual Survey of Players on Friday, and revealed that more people are playing ice hockey around the world.

Over 1.64 million people are now playing hockey, a 2.47 per cent (39,605) jump over the last year, based on the 62 nations that were part of the audit and survey.

Canada leads the way with 625,152 registered players, followed by the United States (510,279), the Czech Republic (107,722), Finland (66,636) and Russia (66,551). Sweden sits sixth with 64,214 registered participants, with Germany (34,256) in seventh, Switzerland in eighth (26,466), France ninth (18,041) and Japan in 10th (15,474).

Germany had the biggest growth of the top-10 nations, as their number of registered players went from 27,068 to 34,356 players (26.56%) over the last year.

Finland saw their number of registered players go up from 56,626 to 66,636 (17.68%), followed by the Czech Republic, who saw their figures increase from 95,094 to 107,722 (13.28%).

The Czech Republic became the first European country to climb over the 100,000 mark and reach six digits.

According to the IIHF survey, Lithuania almost doubled their figures (547 to 1,072) thanks to the establishment of a recreational league and youth hockey leagues in recent years with teams from several cities.

The number of ice rinks worldwide also grew in the surveyed countries to 7,036 indoor ice rinks (3.21%) and 7,893 outdoor rinks (3.39%).

Belarus, for example, had only 14 rinks and 1,308 players 10 years ago, but now boasts 33 rinks and 7,255 registered players.

Meanwhile, the number of referees and linesmen involved in the game grew to by 3,863 officials (5.48%) to 74,308.

A main reason for the constant growth in some countries is more female participation in the game, the IIHF reports.

With Canada and the U.S. leading all nations, followed by Finland, Sweden and Germany, a total of 11 per cent of registered hockey players worldwide are female.

The Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary and Norway have also witnessed significant growth in female participants.

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