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Not even sure how this is a debate. Play your age until you dominate then move up. Tier 3 is not a step up from AAA at the highest levels. It might be a side step but not one up. Scouts from all levels go to U18 games, scouts from D3 colleges go to high end Tier 3, scouts from low end club go to USPHL Elite.
So if end goal is club hockey then elite is a great choice
Goodness, is you are still "playing your age" at 18, your not that good. It's amazing that all these parents buy into the U16 & U18 thing, club owners are geniuses, keeps the parents spending more money thinking their kid still has a shot at something. If your kid is good, he will be playing with older kids, that's how it works, that's how it always had worked. Your all sheep.
My playing your age comment was in regards to mid to low level tier 3 as the alternative. NAHL, USHL, BCHL, etc of course you play up.
I don’t think all 02’s (17) should play U18 but majority should. And I don’t think any 02 should play tier 3 juniors but just my opinion
10x better than EHLP (Goon Hockey), Prep (money laundering), and high school(garbage hockey). The FS model is the only sane option in my book. Too bad you don’t have the balls to communicate. But you Like playing games.