My kid was an alternate once upon a time (EHF Elite for you trolls). We paid 1/2 price. Welcome at all practices that he could play in up to 15 games (# of games is not guaranteed and is up to the coach). Somewhere in someone's mind about the rules, I was told: If you play the 16th game the team has to offer you a spot on the team the following year (no idea if this is true or not - strictly hearsay). And at any time you can decide with the organizations permission that you want to be a full time player, no longer an alternate, and then your child can participate in the playoffs (we were given this option at no additional charge). That and if any absolute loser is counting games your child plays in(as a mite or squirt or peewee) and what you paid and if you were/are an alternate... they need a better life and ignore them.
Alternating is not for the team. It is for you and your child. Make really sure you like the team, its concepts, THE COACH and your kid is having fun. There are a lot of S-heads in youth hockey. Find a Coach that cares for all the kids not just their own. That coach might be a bit of a unicorn, but they are out there.
This is well said. My kid was an alternate for a nonelite ehf program. The 15 game thing is a ceiling, not a promise. It’s there to protect the organization from revolt from the parents paying full price for the full time deal. Yes, it might have some competitive value for the other teams in the league too, but any alternate who can make a difference will be offered a full roster spot early in the year.
Being an alternate can be great for skill development and exposure to a program from within. But the kid has to understand that he/she is not really a team member and very well will face some obstacles fitting in.