All-Area Boys Hockey Player of the Year: Zam Plante’s magical season ends with his mission accomplished – Reuters
HERMANTOWN — Just over a year ago, Hermantown junior Zam Plante was brooding over a state quarterfinal loss to Dodge County.
Plante was the only college player on the ice for the Hawks’ 7-3 loss to the Wildcats after the rest of the team was exposed to COVID-19 in their Division 7A semifinal game against Virginia/ Mountain Iron-Buhl.
Plante, a Minnesota Duluth draftee, was eligible for the game due to a shoulder injury he suffered against Duluth East earlier in the season and hadn’t played in the divisional tournament.
Despite a Herculean effort from Plante, Minnesota’s Brody Lamb of Dodge County scored six goals as the Wildcats knocked out Hermantown.
Plante’s shoulder was not 100% healed for the game, but Hawks coach Pat Andrews said he played an ‘ungodly’ number of minutes – more than 40 of the 51 game minutes.
“As a mom, I was really concerned about that,” Zam’s mom, Kristi Plante, said. “I went in with a pit in my stomach knowing he wasn’t 100 per cent, but knowing he was going to give it his all because it was such a difficult time for the team.”
In the locker room at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Plante has made it his mission to return to the team this season and bring home a state title.
“It was amazing what he did in that state quarterfinal last year against Dodge County,” Andrews said. “He was phenomenal and the whole state got to see him. He took the fact that he let us down personally and I couldn’t have been more proud of anyone. He didn’t let us down at all – he gave us a chance, but he felt like he let us down because he’s so competitive. So his goal coming back was to win a state championship.
Plante and Hermantown returned to St. Paul last month for the state tournament — the varsity team in tow — and picked up the three wins they needed to bring home the state championship.
Plante led the Hawks with 24 goals, including the final two in Hermantown’s 3-2 win over Warroad in the state championship game, and now he’s added the Duluth News Tribune All Player of the Year. -Area to its growing list of honors.
Hermantown certainly fired an extremely talented squad – which included committed fellow UMD and first-team All-Area selection Ty Hanson as well as second-team members Beau Janzig and little brother Max Plante – but the 2021-22 season was anything but a crowning achievement for Plante.
“Zam is competitive, his hard work is through the roof,” Andrews said. “He worked very hard to recover. He played in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Europe last summer for Team USA and did very well… he was playing terrific hockey when he came back last November, then the third game of the season, he hurts himself again.
After a highlight goal to beat Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the Hawks’ season opener, Plante suffered another shoulder injury in his third game against Wayzata.
“I was coming off the ice against Wayzata and the bench started going crazy,” Max said. “Then I looked back and Zam is sitting there on the ice and he’s just mad and you know something’s going on.”
Originally considered season ending, Plante’s injury didn’t require surgery, but it did require more than a month on the bench and a lot of rehabilitation.
“I was like, it’s happened before, the only thing you can do is try to improve, so when you get the chance to come back, you can be the best you can be,” Plante said. “It really sucked and I was a little down, but the guys definitely helped me up and get back out there.”
Kristi, herself a standout basketball player at Duluth East and UMD, said while it’s never easy to watch your child suffer an injury, there is an upside.
“As an athlete you learn a lot from being injured, being on the bench and not being able to play,” she said. “It motivates you more, but you also see the game from a different perspective.”
Plante listened to his doctors and did what it took to come back, not just 100%, but maybe better than before, and while he was sidelined, something else happened. is produced.
“Once he found out he would be able to come back, he dug in his heels and worked hard to come back,” Andrews said. “In the meantime, our whole team got better because everyone had to step up. So now Zam came back to a team that was better and he was motivated and I think that showed in the end. It wasn’t a victory for Plante, it was a victory for the whole team.
“That’s all I remember”
With a Stanley Cup winner for a father, current UMD assistant head coach Derek Plante and legendary Hermantown coach Bruce Plante for his grandfather, hockey is part of the fabric of Plante’s life.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t like hockey,” Plante said. “That’s what I remember doing…I was born in Germany because he played hockey and my life kind of revolved around hockey from the day I was born. That’s all I remember.
Kristi said she and Derek lived in a few different apartments when Zam was born, but right away he got a hockey stick, much to the chagrin of some of their neighbors.
“I remember in apartment buildings, people below us would have a few comments because they could hear the stick banging below where we were,” Kristi said. “He grew up with it, it’s really all he’s ever known – he was definitely born into it.”
Andrews said Plante was clearly gifted, but the natural ability he was gifted with isn’t the reason he became one of the top hockey prospects in the state.
“He’s naturally talented, but he’s not a natural talent,” Andrews said. “He works absolutely hard, he is absolutely competitive and has worked his skills through the roof. His hockey IQ is at an all-time high, but that’s literally a result of the time he spends watching and playing hockey. What you see on the ice is the result of a tremendous amount of work and effort and pain and blood and sweat and tears.
Sometimes Plante’s competitive streak means he’s demanding of his teammates and coaches, but they know he holds himself to the highest standards, Andrews said, and the competitiveness becomes “infectious.”
“They understand that Zam is a generational talent and they want to be around him, they want to play with him,” Andrews said. “I know they all want to improve and Zam makes them better. Good players want to play with the best players and it doesn’t get much better than Zam.
Plante said he sometimes offers “constructive criticism,” but it’s always with the goal of improving and uplifting his teammates, never bringing them down. He also acknowledged their role in what he and the team have accomplished.
“I couldn’t be here without the guys helping me every day, pushing me to be better,” Plante said. “When I got injured at the start of the year, they helped me improve over the season. When I came back, they helped me give my best, so the end, we’re state champions. That’s all I could ask for.