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Hockey sees international growth

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is considered the world’s fastest growing sport, but don’t discount hockey – it’s entirely on the up, which means more teams, more players, and greater competition in the long run. With the Winter Olympics on the horizon, we can get ready for an exciting hockey tournament.

In the last five years, hockey was the second fastest growing sport in the States, a figure based purely on the sale of hockey equipment in the States. Further proof to this growth includes the teams we are increasingly seeing perform come from areas not traditionally considered hockey states.

Teams like the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, and Los Angeles Kings have helped grow the sport in their respective markets for years and now, teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and the Nashville Predators are at the forefront of the impressive growth in non-traditional American markets. And women’s hockey is also making inroads, competing against roller derby and soccer.

But the renewed interest in the sport is international in nature. South Korea, the 2018 Winter Olympic hosts, has just given citizenship to Canadian born Brock Radunske. It’s a country not famed for its hockey and importing players like Radunske will result in a lot of local interest in the sport in preparation for when the games are in Pyeongchang, as well as help spur enthusiasm and development at a youth level for future events.

While South Africa might not have much ice or snow, they are considered good competitors in IIHF Div3, where both the mens’ and womens’ national teams are represented. South African nationals can also be found playing in Canada, Scotland and the US.

The sport is not popular but hockey is being developed in the country at a high rate – giving underprivileged and unlikely youth a chance to try the sport, thanks to high profile events like the Senior World Championships set to take place at a local casino in Cape Town later this month. It won’t be long before online casinos in South Africa are accommodating yet another platform for the sports-mad country to pit their teams against each other.

In fact, the IIHF today has 52 full member countries in addition to 17 associate members and 3 affiliate members. Member countries will continue to increase in number and the likes of Thailand, India and South Africa might become teams to watch in the future.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com