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My local HS is one of the better D3 programs in the state. Tryouts are usually right after Thanksgiving (not this year obviously) and by and large most of the kids thought they were fair from what my son told me. This year varsity had smaller kids playing forward, bigger hitters on D but all played with a certain amount of skill and aggression. Skating determines how soon if at all kids make varsity. Some of the best varsity skaters this year were the smallest kids on the team. Hard hits in the high school game are much more prevalent than most aspects of youth hockey so if a kid has a real aversion to the physical game it will make a difference. Playing time is most certainly not equal so that can be a real adjustment for a lot of kids. As stated most of the kids who get real ice time came up through the club hockey ranks. It's unusual to see any town only players cracking the lineup of decent high school teams. This is the same for most high school sports save football.
My Son is a 9th grader at a D1 HS. What I've found the most eye opening is the amount of Freshman that have repeated a year. Now I'm not naive to reclassing I thought that was reserved for ISL schools. My son could certainly have used the year to develop physically however academically and socially it would have done him a disservice keeping him back a year.
T1 vs Elite is completely meaningless at the high school level.
My oldest was a good T1 player, smart, good passer and all around player. He made varsity as a freshman and played in the top6 all four years (though he did get hurt as a freshman).
My second son was an Elite player, he ended up about 2" taller than his older brother and has a great work ethic but not as good hands. He didn't make the team as a freshman or sophomore.
There is a kid on Roxbury Latin that played all his PW and Bantam hockey in the New England Premier League, so basically town hockey. He made that team as a freshman. Another kid from that same youth program made Xaverian as a sophomore.
There is a kid on Nobles that made it as a freshman who plays T1.
There are kids on Walpole high varsity (D1) that have played only town hockey.
Tryouts matter. Captain's practices matter. What the captains think of you matters. Situation and available jobs matter. The sticker on your helmet is meaningless.