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Prep boys hockey: Hermantown playing well headed into showdown with Warroad

After missing a month with a shoulder injury, UMD commit Zam Plante will be back in the lineup for the Hawks.

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Zam Plante handles the puck during the first period a home game against Duluth East on March 8, 2021. Plante was injured during a game against Wayzata in December, but will be back in the lineup when the Hawks take on second-ranked Warroad Saturday.
Steve Kuchera / 2021 File / Duluth News Tribune
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HERMANTOWN — The Hermantown Hockey Arena is expected to have a full house Saturday when top-ranked Hermantown hosts No. 2 Warroad.

Hawks coach Patrick Andrews said they are expecting two buses of Warriors fans to make the trip across the state for the game for what could be a preview of the Class A championship game in March.

“It’ll be packed in here,” Andrews said. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere, a playoff-type atmosphere.”

Much like Hermantown, Warroad (14-0) boasts Division I talent in Daimon Gardner and Jayson Shaugabay, both of whom are top 10 in Minnesota in points. Gardner, a Clarkson University commit, leads the team with 27 goals and has 43 points. Shaugabay is a Minnesota Duluth commit and leads the team with 29 assists.

“They’re really nice players and they have great depth too,” Andrews said. “They have a good sophomore class and they have a great goaltender. Watching film on them, in a lot of ways they’re a mirror image of us. It’s going to be a really good test for us. We want to play great teams and Warroad is a great team, so it’s going to make us better for sure.”

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Warriors goalie Hampton Slukynsky will also pose a challenge. Slukynsky has allowed multiple goals just four times this season and has recorded shutouts in six of Warroad’s last seven games.

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Ty Hanson (2) of Hermantown and Andrew Larson (16) of Duluth Denfeld are shrouded with a spray of ice from a hard stop on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, at Hermantown Arena.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

While the Warriors will pose one of the biggest challenges of the season for Hermantown, Andrews has been happy with the way the Hawks have played since a loss Dec. 23 at Cretin-Derham Hall .

“A lot of those things we talked about that we weren’t doing well, they saw firsthand that it resulted in a loss,” Andrews said. “Not that we played bad, but we lost. I think that got their attention a little bit and we’ve been doing a lot of nice things and guys have been rewarded. A bunch of guys have been scoring — we’ve gotten great balance in scoring.”
The Hawks haven’t scored as prolifically as Warroad, but Wyatt Carlson leads the team with nine goals, with Dallas Vieau and Kade Kohanski each scoring eight. Sophomore Max Plante leads the team with 19 assists. In addition, defenseman and UMD commit Ty Hanson has 17 points this season, including six goals.

What’s more, Hermantown will have junior Zam Plante, Max’s older brother, back in the lineup. Zam was sidelined with a shoulder injury suffered during the Hawks’ Dec. 10 win over Wayzata.
Zam, also a UMD commit, will play Friday against St. Cloud Cathedral before suiting up Saturday against Warroad.

Zam started practice this week and said he’s felt well since returning.

“So far, I’m feeling fine,” Zam said. “I hope to be able to play at 100% — that’s the goal. I don’t want to be playing if I can’t play at 100%.”

While the Hawks have missed one of the top prospects in the state the last month, it’s also given other players opportunities.

“Having Zam out has made our team better,” Andrews said. “It’s forced guys to step up and forced everybody to play better. We’ve gotten scoring from other people — it’s made us better and now having him back with that, I’m really excited. Just having him back this week, every single day he does sometime that you are just like, ‘Wow.’”

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The puck drops on the Hermantown-Warroad showdown at 5 p.m. Saturday in Hermantown.

Jamey Malcomb has been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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