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"...top 18's don't play Tier I Elite, they are playing in the USHL"
That pretty much tells you it all. T1 Elite go onto USHL and Prep scramble for spots on Jr. teams locally when they're 19 years old with a handful making it to the USHL & college.
I thought it was T1 or Prep but you're right on thise programs.
Another difference it seems T1 coaches work their tails off to get the kids college deals and it never seemed Prep all worked that hard.
There are not a lot of crossover games between Prep and Tier 1 teams to compare the two.
One team that does crossover is Culver Military Academy out of Indiana. They were finalists in the Tier 1 National Championship this year.
They come east for a couple tournaments against Prep teams each winter during the holidays. Their record was 4-4 in their 8 games against New England Prep teams this past season. It's a small sample but relevant to the topic.
My kid goes to an ISL school and plays T1EHL. He's an honors student and has plenty of time to do his schoolwork. You're talking 5 or 6 full day Fridays in the fall, and a couple of missed Friday classes, that's about it. Yes, it's hard to balance, but better than wasting time playing Prep JV (joke) five days a week.
Before you supersleuths give yourself a migraine, he's a boarding student and the T1 team is back home.
If you need to worry about $ then hockey might not be the sport for you and your kid. The game is expensive, the scholarships are few, there is no economic justification for it....it's like owning a boat; makes no $ense.