It's more about "I want to play a sport in college" than "I love hockey so much I'm willing to go and spend two years of playing Juniors, spend $30-$40K of my own money on the 'experience' and then show-up to some third rate D-3 college as a 21 year old freshmen to play marginal hockey in front of parents and a few girlfriends."
With the incredible number of schools offering and adding Lax and team rosters going 50-60-70 players deep and the serious recruiting region being DC to Boston a pretty average athlete can play Lax in college. D-3 you can find kids who can barely run making teams.
The hockey / Juniors system is real for many top-end & Canadian players but it's pretty criminal for those who end-up playing D-3 at some unknown college.
Lax has more opportunity if the goal is to be on a roster. Actually playing and/or earning scholarship money is another things. There can be benefits to being on a team even if you have no chance of ever playing but for the right kid. The question is what else can they be doing with their time in college. In this scenario I'd tell my kid to play club. Club hockey/lax can be a blast and you can get the same experience of a being on a team and having buddies for life. D2 and D1 club hockey can be pretty good and it's taken serious enough to bring accountability to kids that sports brings. And you don't need 2-3 years of T3 juniors to play.
Interesting points - NE hockey is really hard to navigate if not in the inner circle. First love is hockey but we finally said screw it - let's take a college run at lacrosse, it's a lot easier.
Find the best coach you can and leave the kid there. Don't jump from team to team looking for wins. Start there and see what happens. Jumping teams or jumping to lax because you think it's easier probably wont work out all that well. Think you don't have to put in tons of hours on lax skills to play D1 is just foolish.
Lots of good points. Clearly you speak from experience, and worthwhile experience. What would you tell parents is the age younger players should be at the starting line....Midget or Bantam years? The time to really go all in.
Best thing you can do is make them aware. Explain it to them. I have several kids, boys and girls all stating at one point that they wanted to play a sport in college. Two wouldn't put in the time. I explained it to them several times. Going to practice and going to strength training wasn't enough even though you do it every day. Every kid in the country does that. They had to outwork and develop skills better than others. They got it and finally said in their junior years that they were good with just playing through HS. They stopped the charade that most kids put on because they don't want to disappoint their parents who want them to be college athletes. They also were finally ok with their peer group to state they didn't want to play in college. One kid did whatever it took but didn't have the athleticism. The last one is more gifted physicially and has the determination and passion for the sport. He's still playing.
You just don't know but what we all know is it's mostly out of our control. All we can do is give guidance and the opportunity to develop and see what happens.