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PHOENIX -- Arizona has a surprisingly high amount of amateur hockey participants.

Arizona saw the third-highest growth in the nation between 2013 and 2014 for the number of registered hockey players. The desert saw a jump of 17 percent, only trailing Oregon's massive boost.

USA Hockey, the national governing body for the sport, has released its participation numbers for the 2013-14 season by state, giving Arizona the 25th spot nationally.

According to the report, Arizona has a total of 4,860 hockey players.

Chris Peters, blogger for The United States of Hockey, said Arizona was the pleasant surprise of these numbers.

The gains were made primarily through a boost in adult hockey registration, but most of the youth levels also saw some gains. If the team becomes competitive soon, this number could be headed up as enthusiasm for the local team often brings better numbers. Arizona is still chasing record highs it set for hockey participation in the early 2000s, but it's as close as it's ever been now.

The report also revealed that there were more people playing hockey in the U.S. than ever before with a record high of more than 510,000 registered players, an increase of more than 9,000 from the previous year.

Minnesota, also called "The State of Hockey," honored its name ranking first nationally with more than 54,500 players. The states that followed for most hockey participants were Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, respectively.

Other numbers that stood out in the report were Oregon's rapid growth in players, the largest in the nation, with 60 percent compared to last year.

And even though Hawaii was at the bottom of the list with 19 total hockey players, their percentage of growth was the second highest in the nation at 58.3 percent.

KTAR Newsroom,

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