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Whoever pays gets to play. Look at the girl’s team at Central Catholic, they are terrible and have been for a long time; can’t get anyone to go there because it is just as you described in your post and the coach is a bum.
Doesn't fall off that far? You clearly know zero about the lack of depth in public hs girls hockey. Those two lines of players sitting on the bench most likely cannot even skate the length of the ice. There is a HUGE gap in public girls that goes from the top talent literally to learn to skate, on the same team. This is the case for the majority of the girls teams.
Those two lines of players getting all of the ice time can barely skate the length of the ice.
Unfortunately that's the case for many. For the girls, most publics didn't have girls teams until the last 5-10 years, some still don't. Girls have more often than not gone straight to the preps at the middle school level and those that hang on to their club or town connections up to high school eventually make the move early on. This leaves only the very few middle to top end talent players left amongst a large number of players who just started their freshman year. Look at the rosters of the Preps just in Massachusetts when they get posted. Guarantee you will count out entire teams worth of players just from towns all around you.