Hermantown’s worst game of the 2019-20 boys hockey season arguably came in blowing a four-goal lead against St. Cloud Cathedral in a 5-5 regular-season tie.
The Hawks exacted revenge two months later in the Minnesota Class A state tournament semifinals in a four-goal win, but the Hermantown players had a little more retaliation in store Saturday afternoon at Hermantown Ice Arena.
Sophomore forward Zam Plante, the state’s second-leading scorer, netted five goals as top-ranked Hermantown cruised to the 10-1 nonconference win.
“Last year was tough, blowing that lead,” senior defenseman Joey Pierce said. “We had three ties in a row where we blew the lead. But we responded well at the state tournament and we didn’t forget about that game then and took it to them, and the same thing happened today.”
This is a Crusaders team in rebuilding mode after winning the 2019 Class A title and finishing third last season, though that didn’t mean the Hawks (6-0) were any less revved up to play their rival.
“These guys had a little extra juice to play Cathedral,” Hawks coach Patrick Andrews said. “It’s such a great rivalry. They were pretty amped up to play today.”
Pierce was one of six Hermantown players to score goals Saturday, but it was Plante who continued to show why he was so highly regarded coming into the program. The 2020 Youth Hockey Hub Bantam Player of the Year has 14 goals and 11 assists in six games after tallying two goals and an assist in the second period and a hat trick in the third.
“He’s special,” Andrews said. “There isn’t a day in practice or during a game when he doesn’t do something that just makes me go, ‘Wow!’ Hockey-wise, he is years beyond where he is age-wise. And that’s just his mind alone. His ability is next level; he’s phenomenal.”
Plante, son of former Stanley Cup winner Derek Plante and grandson of Hawks legendary coach Bruce Plante, replaced Mr. Hockey Blake Biondi — jersey number and all — and is just three points behind Waseca’s Kyle Ahlschlager for the state scoring lead. He is quick to credit his more seasoned teammates.
“It couldn’t be a better (start),” Plante said. “Guys have been helping me so it’s been awesome so far. Our team is so fast up the ice, making passes everywhere. It’s fun to play in the system right now.
“Most of the guys are really good skaters and we can wear down teams and continue attacking the whole time. It’s hard for a goalie to stay with us that long.”
Crusaders goaltender Grant Martin briefly kept his team in the game, making 20 saves in the first period. Gavin Blomdahl spoiled the effort when he took a Dominic Thomas pass and deked out Martin 2:07 into the game.
Aydyn Dowd, Plante, Pierce, Wyatt Carlson and Plante again tacked on goals during a 32-shot barrage in the second period.
“We have a lot of offense and we came out in the second and third periods and started putting a lot of pucks on the net,” Pierce said.
Plante then took over in the third, wristing in a shot from the right circle, scoring from his knees in the slot and stealing the puck in the neutral zone and scoring shorthanded on a breakaway.
“He’s so effortless,” Andrews said. “He’s a rink rat and he sees the game in a different way that most people don’t see.”
Hermantown finished with 68 shots on goal.
St. Cloud Cathedral 0-0-1—1
First period — 1. H, Gavin Blomdahl (Dominic Thomas, Matt Kauppinen), 2:07.
Second period — 2. H, Aydyn Dowd (Cole Antcliff), 0:08; 3. H, Zam Plante (Ethan Lund), 8:33; 4. H, Joey Pierce (Thomas), 9:11; 5. H, Wyatt Carlson (Plante, George Peterson), 11:02; 6. H, Plante (Carlson, Lund), 11:42.
Third period — 7. H, Plante (Jack Glockle, Pierce), 2:10; 8. SCC, Collin Hess (Jackson Henderson, Kyle Longstrom), 3:10; 9. H, Plante (Carter Rother), 7:15; 10. H, Plante, 11:50 (sh); 11. H, Ty Hanson (Cole Antcliff, Beau Janzig), 1:30 (pp).
Saves — Grant Martin, SCC, 58; Garron Opsahl, H, 8; Cole Thorsvik, H, 4.