Hermantown, Grand Rapids alums fight for USHL championship

Hunter Bischoff and the Youngstown Phantoms have a surprising 2-0 series lead on Zam Plante and the Fargo Force.

Fargo Force's Zam Plante, right, hunts for a goal against Waterloo Black Hawks during their U.S. Hockey League game Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Two Northland products are meeting to contest the United States Hockey League’s playoff championship.

Zam Plante of Hermantown was traded to the Fargo Force at the league’s trading deadline at the end of February.

Plante had two assists as the Force quickly saw off the Tri-City Storm in two Eastern Conference semifinal games. That Tri-City team included Duluth East alum Jacob Jeannette, who was traded to Tri-City in January.

In 51 regular-season games split between Chicago and Fargo this season, Plante had 12 goals and 21 assists.

Plante went without a point in four Western Conference Final games against the Lincoln Stars, though he did have a game-high seven shots on goal in Game 1 of the series, which the Force won 1-0 on May 4 on a power-play goal with just 44 seconds to play.


The best of five Clark Cup series against the Youngstown Phantoms began Friday night in Fargo, with Youngstown claiming two surprising victories, 4-1 on Friday and 2-1 in overtime on Saturday,

Game 3 of the best-of-five will be Friday in Ohio.

Hunter Bischoff (Grand Rapids) will be in the lineup for the Phantoms. The Augustana commit had four goals and six assists in 55 regular-season games for Youngstown.

Neither Plante nor Bischoff had any points in the first two games, though both were credited with a single shot on goal both Friday and Saturday.

The Phantoms dumped Cedar Rapids in two games and Chicago in four to get to the championship series, though Bischoff has yet to record a postseason point.

  • Jeannette did score for Tri-City in his last game of the season, the opening goal in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Force on April 29. It was his only point in four playoff games and went with five goals and 12 assists in 57 USHL games for the Storm and Dubuque this season. Jeannette is committed to Union College in New York.
  • Dallas Vieau (Hermantown) also got a brief USHL audition for Tri-City toward the end of the regular season, recording an assist in an April 22 game vs. Lincoln.
  • Max Plante also had a role in the USHL playoffs. Plante scored the only goal in a 3-1 defeat for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in a decisive Game 3 of a first-round series against Cedar Rapids. It was his only point in the series, but Plante had five goals and 19 assists in 32 USHL games with the USNTDP.
  • Defenseman Ty Hanson (Hermantown) was forced out of the first round of the playoffs in two games, but he made a significant impact for the Sioux City Musketeers. The defenseman had four goals and 21 assists in 54 regular-season games. His efforts were recognized with a second-team USHL All-Rookie selection in postseason awards balloting.
  • Aaron Pionk and the Waterloo Black Hawks were also eliminated in the first round. The recent Minnesota Duluth commit had two assists in the first game of the best-of-three series against Lincoln. He finished the season with 12 goals and 24 assists in 60 USHL games.
  • In the North American Hockey League, a pair of Grand Rapids alumni have led the Oklahoma Warriors into the final four of the Robertson Cup playoffs. Joey DelGreco had a huge season, with 22 goals and 47 assists in 60 games, and then scored the winning goal at 6:45 of the second overtime period as his team swept into this weekend’s Robertson Cup final four, where they will face the Minnesota Wilderness in a semifinal series. The Augustana commit carried that form into the postseason, recording three multi-point games in his first five playoff appearances. He had two goals and two assists in a three-game sweep of Amarillo in the South Division semifinals and had a goal and assist in Game 2 as the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the division finals vs. Shreveport.
  • Kaden Nelson (Duluth East, Grand Rapids) had yet to record a point in six postseason games, but had eight goals and 11 assists in 47 regular-season contests.
  • Carter Clafton (Grand Rapids) appeared in goal for Amarillo in two games of the series. He exited early after allowing three goals in Game One, and entered in relief in Game Two. He finished the season with an 11-12-0 record, a 2.41 goals against average and .919 save percentage.
  • The Minnesota Wilderness swept the Kenai River Brown Bears out of the first round, though Garett Drotts (Grand Rapids) had an assist in Game 2 to cap an excellent season in which the Augustana commit had 27 goals and 26 assists in 59 games of the regular season.
  • Kade Shea (Duluth Denfeld) and the Anchorage Wolverines didn’t make the NAHL playoffs, but Shea still posted five goals and 15 assists in 53 appearances in the Last Frontier.
  • Will Troutwine (Eveleth-Gilbert) finished out the season strong for the Janesville Jets, recording points in each of his last three games of the season to finish the 2022-23 campaign with three goals and five assists in 24 appearances. Troutwine is a Holy Cross commit.

"Calls From Home" is an occasional feature intended to follow up with athletes in college sports and junior hockey still competing outside the Northland. If you know of someone who should be included, please contact the News Tribune sports team at with the subject line "Calls From Home." Another edition featuring Northland spring sports athletes will appear later this month.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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