The IIHF has announced that the Asian countries of Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates have shown the highest growth in hockey participation in the past five years.

Hong Kong, who re-joined the World Championships last year, increased its number of registered ice hockey players from 182 to 1,631, giving them nearly a 800% expansion in players. For UAE, who is coming off a gold medal at the Gulf Cup earlier this year, had a 350% increase, putting them second on the IIHF’s five year growth chart.

With the introduction of the Challenge Cup of Asia back in 2008, it makes sense to see hockey in these countries rise to where they are today. For the Emirates, the team has managed to win six international tournaments since 2008, including two Challenge Cups and every Gulf Cup tournament. While Hong Kong won’t be at the next Challenge Cup, it seems like the 2011 CCoA gold medalists are looking to expand on their World Championship program following a measly 4th place finish in Division III in 2014.

On the other end of the spectrum, Slovenia (-29%), Poland (-12%), Italy (-9%) and Japan (-8%) currently sit at the bottom of the growth chart. For Slovenia and Poland, this news comes during the same year that both countries took major advancements in men’s competition, with the former participating in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

For a full list of new player information published by the IIHF, click here.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

About The Author

Steven took a different route towards his hockey interests. Starting out as a big Habs fan, he started to gravitate towards the more obscure levels of hockey, such as the low level tournaments in Asia, strange club matches between teams most people in North America can’t pronounce, and even some 3am contests between Bulgaria and New Zealand. Aside from his love for strange hockey events, Steven occasionally acts as a mediocre ball hockey goalie following a failed attempt at making it to the NHL as a fourth line house league grinder. Beyond hockey, Steven is an avid racing fan and loves to chat about NASCAR, F1, Indycar, you name it. Oh, and don’t get him started on music. That is, unless you want the whole history of metal and a guitar lesson. Currently, Steven is a credentialed media member with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, as well as with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. Steven has also hosted the television show "The Hockey House" on TVCogeco in Ontario, as well as a segment under the same with on LeafsTV in Toronto. Home page: http://www.thehockeyhouse.net

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