"In our backyard we have amazing youth hockey teams who are playing on a national level and you can watch for free!"
Coming from the referee perspective, I believe youth hockey has been revolutionized with USA Hockey's initiatives. In an attempt to better the game, in my opinion, they have lessened the quality of talent at a local level as compared to Hockey Canada. It is a different style of play up in the Great White North and it often trumps the USA Hockey talent. Yet don't let this turn you off because the United States is churning out young players like never before. And its not just boys playing hockey anymore, the girls game is rapidly growing as well!
Next time you want to go to watch a hockey game, avoid yourself the financial troubles and other difficulties associated with seeing a professional sports game and give youth sports a chance! Especially at the Nationals level you won't regret it!