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Hopefully, I can help some of the 05 parents to understand better what is happening, starting next year.
Bantams are "bridge years" to Midgets. Technically still Youth Hockey, but after U14, it isn't any more.
The first indication is, they call it U14. Right away, that tells you, you aren't in Youth Hockey any more. It used to be called Bantam Major. Not any more. So, why?
It was done because too many parents were still concerned about their kid "playing up." U14 legitimized it - if your kid is ready to break away from his birth year - for whatever reason - U14 attempts to de-stigmatize that.
The other reason is, Nationals. For the first time at the U14 level, teams start really trying to qualify for Nattys. U14 teams are brought together for that specific purpose, sort of like teams are formed for the Q. So the best 13 year olds will play U14, even if they are in 8th Grade. Or 7th Grade.
Then there are Prep schools. Many schools start in 7th Grade. Nobles, Bel Hill, Rivers, just to name a few - they all have school teams with good players. Some kids board at a Cardigan Mountain to play hockey, starting in 7th or 8th grade.
That also siphons off talent from the "birth year" concept.
Finally, if you don't know it already, you need to learn - fast. Public HS Varsity hockey has plummeted. Fallen off the shelf. Three years ago, at least the "Catholics" were good. Now, even their dominance of MIAA has disappeared. And it isn't because the Publics have gotten better.
And JV HS hockey is awful. Absolutely awful. Prep JV isn't much better.
So, that has opened the door for Full Season Midgets - U15, U16, U18 - and Juniors, which starts at age 16. Most of the best players still play Prep, if they can afford at least a good chunk of the tuition and handle it academically. The next talent rung play FS Midgets and Juniors. Those that are left play HS.
So, 05 parents, start thinking about the future, and thinking about what path to follow. If your kid really wants to play competitive HS hockey, get him to the gym. Get him in a summer-long skills deal. Get him on a Bantam team that is well coached - doesn't matter if it's "Elite" or "E9" or "Tier 1."
People keep saying, league and team don't matter, coaching does. Embrace it, because it's true.
Holy Crap! Another great post on the Dboard...Been through it and this is spot on.
FWIW I have a 2004 and the vast majority of 2004s played bantam minor this season (at least EHF Elite and E9 players). For the 2005s, the hockey will be good next year, just like you have gotten used to throughout the youth years. I would suggest staying put another year to work out the checking aspect of the game and play another year with your peer group.
Not that I know anything (this is my first time through), but I'm going into next year (U14) looking for a full season because I'd rather err on the side of too much hockey than too little at this age level. I just remember my age 13-14 years and how much I played and how much that helped my development. I've got him in a program that will provide practices, skills, and weight training throughout the year. He can't afford to have an off year or a year with less hockey when he's ramping up for HS, and he needs to hit the weights hard now that he'll be 14 going on 15.
Highly doubt your bender is a higher end 05. Probably not good enough to make a good Elite team, so daddy would prefer he play U14 Tier 1 to say he's playing up.
And to the 05 guy, I have no problem with your guy playing up but most 04s are going to be freshmen next year not 8th graders
It feels like I know a ton of September, October, November and December 2004s who will be in 8th grade next year! I’m not seeing a lot of Bantam Major options... seems to be going away in favor of U 14 teams!