Derek Plante heads for Chicago
Zam Plante might stay
There is still hope for Duluth-area hockey fans that we could get a chance to watch potentially unanimous Mr. Hockey candidate Zam Plante play his senior season for the Hermantown Hawks.
Nothing certain, because Derek Plante just got hired to leave his UMD associate hockey coaching job at UMD to accept an assistant coaching position with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this week, climaxing a huge summer for the Plante family.
Earlier, Max Plante, an explosive sophomore on the Hermantown state championship team last season, was invited to the USA Hockey Team Development camp as an Under-17 player, on a two-year arrangement, which means he won’t be playing with the Hawks.
And Zam Plante – whose name, I suggested a year ago, should be spelled “Zam!” – was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL amateur draft last month, and has is committed to start this season with the Chicago Steel of the U.S. Hockey League.
With Derek Plante, who has been a pivotal part of all three UMDs NCAA championship teams, got the Blackhawks job, we could all celebrate his good fortune as well as that of his two older sons. But as Hermantown followers, we all could mourn that after one fantastic season playing together, Max and Zam might be departing.
Obviously, the family will be moving to Chicago, and the question is: When?
As it stands now, Zam Plante will start the season with the Chicago Steel, and either play there all season or return to Hermantown for the high school season, before returning to the Steel next spring.
“We’re still working that out,” said Derek, who knows the advanced development of Junior hockey but also appreciates what it would mean to Zam to finish his three years as a senior at Hermantown. “We’re still thinking about it, and he hasn’t decided yet.”
“It’s a family decision,” said Kristi Plante, Derek’s wife and mother of Zam and Max. “If he decides to stay with the Steel, we’ll probably move to Chicago, and if he decides he needs to come back for his senior year, we’ll make it happen.”
For Derek Plante, who was a star at Cloquet and UMD before playing in the NHL for eight seasons, with Buffalo, which drafted him in 1982, as well as Chicago, Philadelphia, and on the 2000 Dallas Stars on their Stanley Cup-wining team.
Plante, whose dad, Bruce Plante, built Hermantown’s high school program to its current peak as longtime coach, assisted Scott Sandelin at UMD before getting a job working with young prospect for the Blackhawks in 2015 After five years, he returned home to assist at UMD again as associate head coach for the past two seasons.
“Because I had either played with or worked with everybody on their staff, I knew it would be a good fit when they called and offered me the job,” Plante said. “They’ve still got players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but they’re into a rebuilding mode after losing a lot because of salary cap issues.
“I’m guessing Derek King and I will work with the forwards, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Somewhat overlooked in the rush of this week’s news was the item that Max Plante has committed to join his brother Zam at UMD for his college hockey. So regardless of what Zam decides to do this season, area hockey fans will get a chance to see them work their magic together with the Bulldogs.
In ordinary times, hockey news would get pushed to secondary status, but the Plante Family movements and the return of Krill Kaprizov, who found a way to get out of his Russian homeland by way of Turkey, and then return to the U.S. – saving the franchise, undoubtedly, commanded front page status.
Back on the baseball field, the Twins have found the way to win and lose in excruciating fashion. In their victories, they’ve gotten vital performances by some of their previously unknown players stepping up for key roles.
Jose Miranda, who had driven in the last two walkoff runs with hits for victories by the team, came through again on Monday, driving in the tying run in the last of the 10th, then Gio Urshela blasted a 2-run home run over the center-field fence to subdue Detroit 5-3.
And the Huskies, who are assured of a playoff slot having won the first half pennant, seem to waver back and forth on winning streaks and losing streaks, but being a college league, it’s fun to watch their intensity and exuberance as they try to get above .500 for the second half.
They went into this week’s break with three straight victories, the last two against the Minnesota Mudpuppies at Wade Stadium Saturday and Sunday.
The Mudpuppies are playing the entire season on the road this season, and it is wearing on them.
But the Huskies needed stout pitching from Alex Potter, who was hustled in as a first-inning reliever for Jake Hamilton. Potter maneuvered his way for six shutout innings until the Mudpuppies capitalized on an error at third to rally for the tying run at 1-1 in the seventh.
The Huskies had taken a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Peyton Powell hit a flyable to the outfield, and Cam Frederick tagged up at second and raced to third. When the throw got past the third baseman. Peyton Powell came through again with his bat when the game went into the 10th inning 1-1.
As they do in the Major Leagues, Northwoods teams start extra innings with a runner on second, and after closer Nolan Lebamoff got through the top of the 10th, Powell stepped up to lead off the bottom of the 10th and smacked a line drive to left field that drove in the walkoff winning run.
On Sunday, the Huskies blew a 4-1 lead, but when it was 4-4 in the last of the eighth, J.D. Rogers tripled down the right-field line for the game-winning hit, and JD McReynolds pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the 5-4 victory.