Much like London Knights and the Edmonton Oil Kings in the CHL, success in the USHL for the Waterloo Black Hawks came a year ahead of schedule.
Though unlike London and Edmonton, who won their respective league and are playing for the CHL’s Memorial Cup, Waterloo fell short of the ultimate goal this season, losing in the Clark Cup Finals Wednesday.
Despite the loss, Waterloo’s current team made the five and a half hour trip back to northeast Iowa with a lot to hang their hat on. Taking the Green Bay Gamblers to the fifth and final game of Clark Cup Final exceeded the vast majority of USHL followers’ predictions. Many projected this series to last no more four games considering Waterloo’s sixth overall finish in the regular season and facing one of the strongest USHL teams ever seen in the league’s 23 year history.
With possible 2012 NHL draft pick Vince Hinostroza out for the entire Black Hawks’ cup run, the team’s success was accomplished while only having one player likely to hear his name called come next month’s NHL Draft in A.J. Michaleson. In addition, the team did not have a single drafted player from prior NHL Drafts.
Despite Hinostroza and Michaelson leaving, next year’s roster will be one of the top USHL teams to watch for NHL draft followers.
Highly ranked 2013 NHL Draft eligible players defenseman Ian McCoshen and foward and Taylor Cammarata will set up similar to this year’s Dubuque team with top 2012 eligibles Zemgus Girgensons and Michael Matheson. Cammarata had one of the best 16-year-old seasons the USHL has seen, leading Waterloo in points and being named Rookie of the Year. Cammarata continued his tear in the Clark Cup Playoffs, finishing second in scoring with 16 points in 15 games. McCoshen returned for his second season in with Waterloo and grew his game grew by leaps and bounds. Like Cammarata, McCoshen had an impresive playoff. McCoshen played well defensively and put up impressive numbers with seven points in 15 games.
In addition to the duo of McCoshen and Cammarata, the team will be bringing in an impressive amount of talent for next season. Cammarata will be team up with former Shattuck St. Mary’s program mate Zach Stepan upfront. Stepan will contribute immediately and is ranked in the top fifteen amongst American prospects by Future Considerations in this year’s NHL Draft.
Another top forward who could be in the fold upfront for the Black Hawks is this year’s Minnesota Mr. Hockey’s Justin Kloos. Much is still uncertain on whether or not the draft eligible Kloos will play for Waterloo as he could be bound for the University of Minnesota depending on departures. Kloos was impressive in his stint with the team this year recording two goals and two assists in two games.
Much like the uncertainty with Kloos, more forward talent could suit up in the USHL next season. 2011 second round Futures Draft pick Tyler Sheehy would be a huge land if the team can convince him to leave his Burnsville (Minn.) High School team.
The team also picked up what could be key pieces to Waterloo’s quest for the Clark Cup next season in Tuesday’s USHL Entry Draft. The Black Hawks took Chris Calnan, who led Noble & Greenough (Mass.) School in goals, with their first round pick. The Boston College commit is likely to be select in one of the middle rounds in next month’s NHL draft.
Waterloo followed up their first selection by taking Eric Schurhamer who was one of the best defeneseman in Minnesota High School hockey this season. The Waterloo staff continued to dip into the Minnesota ranks, taking Lakeville North High School’s leading point getter Blake Winiecki. All three are seniors are their respective high school and will likely gear up for the team for their 2012-13 campaign.
Certainly next season’s Waterloo team will be younger and less USHL experienced than this year’s playoff overacheiving team, but the future is bright. Mixed with top draft eligible returning players and this year’s potential draft picks, the Western Conference should be on the look out for Waterloo come the fall.