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UMD men’s hockey: Hermantown’s Zam Plante wastes no time committing to play for Bulldogs, father

The oldest of Derek Plante’s three boys, Zam Plante, announced Sunday he’ll be following in his father’s footsteps and heading to Minnesota Duluth to play college hockey.

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Hermantown’s Zam Plante handles the puck during a game against Duluth East on March 8, 2021. Plante, who is heading into his junior year at Hermantown, has verbally committed to Minnesota Duluth. (Steve Kuchera / File / News Tribune)
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Hermantown’s Zam Plante will not only follow in his father’s footsteps, but he’ll be playing for him someday soon at Minnesota Duluth.

Zam, who turns 17 later this month, announced his verbal commitment to the Bulldogs on Sunday morning via Twitter from Europe, where he is playing for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia.

Zam’s father, Derek, played four years for the Bulldogs from 1989-93 and is now in his second stint as a coach under Scott Sandelin. As a player, Derek scored 96 goals and 123 assists in 138 games at UMD, including 36 goals and 56 assists as a senior captain in 1992-93 en route to being named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

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Derek , a Cloquet native, went on to play eight seasons in the NHL — winning a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 — and also worked as a player development coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. He first served as an assistant coach under Scott Sandelin from 2010-15 — winning an NCAA title in 2011 — and returned to UMD in 2020 as associate head coach.

But as Derek — who is the son of legendary Hermantown High School boys hockey coach Bruce Plante — has come to accept and embrace, he’s quickly becoming known less and less for his own accomplishments, and more so for what Zam has done as of late.

“My dad went through the same thing. He was pretty popular for a while, and then he was ‘Derek’s dad’ for a while. That’s the point where we are at now,” Derek said on the News Tribune’s Bulldog Inside Podcast in April . “It’s kind of nice. I don’t mind being known as ‘Zam’s dad.’ That’s alright.”

Zam has two younger brothers — Max, 15, and Victor, 13. Zam is heading into his junior year at Hermantown High School, and Sunday was the first day he and other members of the Class of 2023 could verbally commit to NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs.

As a sophomore with the Hawks last season, Zam posted 29 goals and 32 assists in 20 games. He also played four games, scoring one goal, this spring in Cloquet with the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League. Zam might have gotten in a few more games with the Wilderness, but he was also busy this spring reaching the Minnesota Class A state tennis doubles quarterfinals along with fellow sophomore Aaron Evjen.

Now he’s in Europe playing for Team USA with and against some of the top players in the world younger than 18. In a pre-tournament game Saturday against the Czech Republic in Breclav, Zam scored the deciding goal in the third period of a 5-3 victory for the Americans. He finished with a goal and an assist.

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The Ivan Hlinka Cup officially gets underway Monday with the U.S. taking on Slovakia in preliminary round play in Piestany. The tournament runs through Aug. 7.

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Hermantown Hawks forward Zam Plante has a hockey lineage. Father Derek played eight seasons in the NHL, was a member of the 1999 Stanley Cup champion Dallas Stars, and is now the associate head coach for the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team. Grandfather Bruce coached Hermantown High School boys hockey for 28 seasons, amassing 547 victories, including three state Class 1A championships. The three posed on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Hermantown’s outdoor rinks, where Derek coached Zam. On Sunday, Aug. 1, Zam Plante verbally committed to play at Minnesota Duluth in the future. (Steve Kuchera / File / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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