The Hunch…

Expectations are just part of what Waterloo Black Hawks stars Taylor Cammarata (Minnesota) and Ian McCoshen had to deal with this season.

Cammarata, after all, was the No. 1 pick in last season’s USHL Futures Draft while McCoshen made his mark last season by being one of the youngest players in the USHL at 15.

But as both recently put it, this season was about pushing the expectations out of the way.

“Expectations are something you have to push aside,” McCoshen said. “You have to do what is best for the team and that is play hockey.”

McCoshen and Cammarata, who are both 16 years old, have done quite a bit help the Black Hawks turn into a team which could realistically contend for both a Western Conference title and a Clark Cup.

Cammarata leads Waterloo with 42 points (19 goals, 23 assists) and has consistently been among the league leaders in points. McCoshen, who scored a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over Fargo on Friday, has provided a solid presence on the blue line to make Waterloo one of the more balanced teams in the league.

Waterloo, in part to Cammarata and McCoshen, came into this season with high expectations given its roster featured other potential stars such as Vince Hinostroza (Notre Dame), Tony Cameranesi (Minnesota-Duluth/Toronto), Eddie Wittchow (Wisconsin/Florida) and AJ Michaelson (Minnesota).

The Black Hawks got off to a bit of a rocky start but lately have picked things up by sitting in third place in the Western Conference. A win tonight plus a Lincoln loss would give Waterloo second place in the west. Plus, with Waterloo having played three fewer games than first place Omaha there is a legitimate chance of going higher in the standings.

“Yeah, obviously there was a lot of talk early in the season,” Cammarata said back in December. “We had the guys here and what we had to do to come together to play as a team and we are going to get on a roll here and once we start clicking, we are going to have a nice rest of the season here.”

Cammarata, who is tenth in the league in scoring, said he wasn’t really worried about his age being a factor. The way he put it, is it doesn’t matter how young someone is or isn’t, they still have to put up points.

He has certainly done that. Cammarata earlier in the season orchestrated the offense and at one point had more assists than most player had points. Then he started to pick up the scoring and has flourished into a potential Rookie of the Year candidate.

As for McCoshen, it was about improving from what he did last season. The 6-3, 205-pounder played in 42 games but wanted to get better so he could become a more consistent player for the Black Hawks.

McCoshen, who is from Hudson, Wisc., said he spent the summer just working out and working on his strength and conditioning. It appears to have helped with McCoshen scoring 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 37 of the team’s 39 games this year.

“Being one of the younger guys in the league you were looking up to 20-year-olds,” McCoshen recalled about his rookie season. “It was a little scary.”

Whatever fear there may have been last year has certainly disappeared. At least it appears that way from talking to Cammarata.

“I think he’s our No. 1 defenseman,” Cammarata said. “He holds our d-corps together and he leads by example. He’s a big rough guy and other defensemen on our team feel calm when they are around him.”

McCoshen had some equally nice praise for his teammate.

“Taylor is exceeding anyone’s expectations and he’s doing really well and having a breakout year for his rookie year and I am really happy for him,” McCoshen said. “I just told him to play your game and do what you do best and that’s dominate. I really don’t have to tell him too much.”