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U14 FS is a bit of a crapshoot and IMHO, it's the only age where you really have no idea what the season is really going to entail. I'm a big believer in coaches over leagues or teams but I think that all goes out the door for this one season.
U14 usually has a number of 8th & 9th grade players on the team, the 8th graders are committed to playing the FS because they don't have other outlets, some of the 9th grade players are committed to the doing a full season but many will tryout for their high school team. The inevitable scheduling conflicts that arise between club and high school mean many of these players won't be able to make practices and games on a regular basis, this in turn creates drama and stress.
To compensate for the inevitable changes after Thanksgiving, some organizations overfill their rosters. Not a bad idea but it does make the first half of a season a little more challenging with 20 kids on the bench. Other organizations know that there will be players available after November so they just assume the influx will equal the outflow and they are good. Unfortunately this doesn't always happen, especially with smaller org's so you will see practices with 5 kids on the ice and games with 8 or 9 skaters, so not a great situation either.
Here is the advice I give any parent about to enter the U14 season having been through it a few times now, it's a bit long winded so sorry.
If your kid is a freshman and isn't going to go the school route but is a good player try finding a decent U16 or U15 FS team to get him on. This can be difficult as there really can be significant size/strength differences from 14 to 16 but in my experience, kids playing FS U16 are genuinely committed to playing the season.
If your player isn't capable of making a decent U16 team as a freshman (don't get discouraged) stick with the larger programs in your area for U14 as they usually have the least amount of problems after Thanksgiving.
Now if you are willing to gamble at bit, sign your player up for a half season team and come 12/1 (really the week after turkey day), start emailing coaches that you think are a fit with your player at some of the smaller programs. Usually these teams will have openings and you can save yourself a few bucks. I know a number of players that found landing spots for a little more than the cost of the jerseys. Downside, you have to put in a little work and it may take a week or two to find him a team.
If you are going to let you kid tryout @ high school and have him play V/JV, do everyone a favor and sign up for a half season team and find your player a spot as an alternate if you feel he isn't getting enough hockey. Although I don't begrudge any parent/player who goes the school route, you aren't being fair to those who are still there. I've been on both sides of this decision and wish I followed my own advice. My son & I got some peace of mind but we also got a fair amount of grief when we missed 50% of the remaining games and 90% of the practices.
If your kid is an 8th grader, stick with the larger programs or go half season and find him a home after 12/1. I'm going to face this particular dilema for the first time with my youngest in two years.
That's my .02 cents, I'm sure I will get eviscerated for my response but U14 really is a strange season.
Speaking about .02 cents. Now how about the $$$ and cents. Any word out there about program prices for the U14 season next year. E9/BHL or Fed (PLEASE no league hating comments), full or half season prices.
Thank you for your posts... most valuable thread I have ever seen on this site. I’m struggling with this for my U14 incoming 8th grade goalie for next year and even though you guys are talking about players you’ve given me more to think about. Thanks,
I know and this is my fear... he has been approached to be the #2 for an E9 team and a #2 for a T1 EHF. Don’t want to sit on the bench!
My advice is to ask the coaches what the story is with other goalie. If they are on the path to play high school then you have a half season as the one and only
Thanks for the advice! He is a great golfer and a great LAX player but he is “all in” as a goalie and has left club lax and his jr golf team. He has a goalie trainer and off ice trainer so he is chugging along!
Where do they play out of?
OOFA! That would be a haul! Live in the Attleboro area and used to commute up to Newton for work BEFORE they built up the area with TripAdvisor, etc! BOCH and Hyde Park are doable... Newton is a stretch...