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Is 14U Platinum division considered tier 1? Or is it really good tier 2? Also, for 2009 next season, do most of the good tier 1 players move on to high school, prep, academies? Or do they stick around EHF and E9 full season? Or maybe they do split season?
U14 is a mess. Platinum is Tier 2 at this level. Parents that have kids going to high school next year are in a tough spot. Are they going to make varsity as a freshman? If So then they need to find a half season team. Kids going into 8th grade need to find a full season team. Then you have kids that might might be going to to high school and might prefer playing for a full season team, than play for a bad high school team. Or the plan is to leave after freshman year after getting a little bit more exposure on a good club team. (Maybe prep) At this point in time don't chase leagues or titles. Get on a team and enjoy the end of youth hockey.
Went through this last year and it's actually terrible. It really depends on whether your kid will be in 8th grade or 9th grade next year. 8th graders should try and play full season, but despite whatever coach tells you, the team will be a mess when kids make their high school teams and move on. Finding a good team with mostly 8th graders would be your best option, the league matters a lot less at this age despite what the FED/E9 thumper know it alls with their eldest being a squirt major say.
If you are asking, I assume the top end U14 teams aren't knocking on your door. If you have a 9th grader and plan to play high school next year, talk to the high school coach. They will help you find a team and coach they like in most instances. You could consider playing U15 if your son is truly a varsity candidate as a freshman. It's a little better preparation for the winter playing when seniors start smashing your kid into the boards.
I have a son playing U14 platinum this year with another kid (2011) that will be there in a few years. My experience this year has been great but that is because the coach has a full roster with kids showing up to practice the 2nd half of the year. We have played a lot of games plus tournaments and with friends who went the Elite full season path this year all I hear is complaints about the 2nd half being a big disappointment between very small amount of games and no one at practice. The level of play is a slight step down from platinum in years past most notably at the bottom of the division otherwise the top half is still good hockey. We are a family just trying to enjoy one more full season and it has been awesome. My son is good not great and will transition to 1/2 season next year with HS being his focus before he heads off to college. If you're an 09 parent looking at U14 next year and need full season look for one of the top platinum teams and a coach that is prepared to build a roster with the right mix of kids. If you go down the Elite path be prepared for a 2nd half of the season filled with 6 player practices and travel to distant rinks for games on Sunday afternoons.
I can only assume MHR is accurate bc coaches love their rankings but look at the game count post Thanksgiving for some of the Elite full season teams compared to Platinum Tier 1. Since Thanksgiving (game counts reported to MHR)...
Rats Full Season = 8
Railers = 9
Islanders Full Season = 6
TG Elite = 11
Eagles T1 = 19
TG T1 = 21
Huskies T1 = 16