everyone is spot on that the U14 is a mess of a year. It is the major downside to USAH going with strict birth years, not school year, and with parents insisting that their johnny freshman plays varsity and rides the pine.
My kid's U14 years were fine, no issues. Played full season both years, everyone else did, too. Lost a couple of kids to JV the first year (such a waste) and one kid to a bad Varsity team the second. No big deal, certainly not a "mess of a year."
Know lots of other kids whose U14 years were fine as well. I guess it depends on the quality of the program or, in the words of BTO, "if you get in with the right bunch of fellows."