In city centers, a determined effort to diversify hockey

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Logan Johnson takes part in a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Logan Johnson takes part in a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo a mural dedicated to Ed Snider is seen on the side of a home near the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. Snider Hockey, the

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo a mural dedicated to Ed Snider is seen on the side of a home near the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. Snider Hockey, the

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo April Johnson, center left, speaks with children Malakye, center, and Wylla as her other son Logan, left, puts on his pads

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo April Johnson, center left, speaks with children Malakye, center, and Wylla as her other son Logan, left, puts on his pads

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Malakye Johnson takes part in a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Malakye Johnson takes part in a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Feb. 20, 2019 photo Virlen Reyes poses for a photograph at her studio in Philadelphia. Reyes become Snider Hockey's first college graduate. Th

In this Feb. 20, 2019 photo Virlen Reyes poses for a photograph at her studio in Philadelphia. Reyes become Snider Hockey's first college graduate. Th

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Malakye Johnson (1) gathers with his teammates during a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (A

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Malakye Johnson (1) gathers with his teammates during a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (A

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo April Johnson speaks before her children take part in a Snider Hockey practice during an interview with The Associated Pre

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo April Johnson speaks before her children take part in a Snider Hockey practice during an interview with The Associated Pre

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Wylla Johnson, right, talks to her brother Malakye, center left, before he takes part in Snider Hockey practice at the Sca

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Wylla Johnson, right, talks to her brother Malakye, center left, before he takes part in Snider Hockey practice at the Sca

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Malakye Johnson prepares for a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Feb. 21, 2019 photo Malakye Johnson prepares for a Snider Hockey practice at the Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

FILE - In this November 23, 1960 file photo, 25-year-old left wing Willie O'Ree, the first black player of the National Hockey League, warms up in his

FILE - In this November 23, 1960 file photo, 25-year-old left wing Willie O'Ree, the first black player of the National Hockey League, warms up in his

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2018 file photo, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a news conference in New York, Monday. (AP Pho

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2018 file photo, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a news conference in New York, Monday. (AP Pho

In this Feb. 20, 2019 photo Virlen Reyes speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at her studio in Philadelphia. Reyes become Snider Hocke

In this Feb. 20, 2019 photo Virlen Reyes speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at her studio in Philadelphia. Reyes become Snider Hocke

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo, former hockey player Willie O'Ree waves to the crowd after being honored prior to an NHL hockey game between

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo, former hockey player Willie O'Ree waves to the crowd after being honored prior to an NHL hockey game between

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Minority players in the National Hockey League remain a relative rarity.

But the effort to increase diversity in the sport at the youth level has never been more robust than it is now. The results can be seen in neighborhoods in places like Philadelphia and Detroit where basketball, baseball and football are still the top choices for many.

While just 5 percent of the 778 NHL players are minorities, that number is 70 percent within Snider Hockey, a program that provides free equipment, ice time and academic support for more than 3,000 youths in the Philadelphia area. Ice Hockey in Harlem, Detroit Ice Dreams and other organizations are also trying to bring the sport to people who never thought it was for them.

The NHL says it has spent $100 million along with the players' union since 2015 to grow diversity in the sport.

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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