As if stopping the irrepressible Zam Plante wasn’t impossible enough. Toss younger brother Max along Zam’s side, and the Plante boys might as well just hit the ice with a personalized puck for their use only.
After all, who’s going to take it from them?
Hermantown’s little secret, however, is the addition of another “brother” to their first-line mix. OK, so junior Kade Kohanski isn’t a true blood relative, but he’s family all the same. The Plantes and Kohanski are inseparable off the ice and interchangeable on it, which is to say all three are equally comfortable playing center or wing. Same goes for digging the puck out of the corners or delivering it into the net.
Kohanski even plays an integral role during family squabbles. If Zam, a junior, and Max, a sophomore, are in the midst of, shall we say, a disagreement, Kohanski is usually in the middle of it, too — literally.
“It’s mostly these two that get into it,” Kohanski said, pointing to the Plantes after the Hawks beat Hill-Murray 4-1 Saturday at the St. Louis Park Rec Center to complete a weekend sweep of big-school powerhouses in the Champions Cup tournament.
“He’s the mediator,” Zam Plante said about Kohanski.
Hermantown, No. 1 in Class 1A in Legacy Hockey’s preseason power rankings, out-gunned No. 5-2A Benilde-St. Margaret’s 6-5 on Friday then prevailed over the No. 4-2A Pioneers in a slogging, grinding affair. The games marked the season debut for the Hawks and first varsity games for Max Plante, who, like his brother, was a scoring phenomenon at the youth levels. Zam Plante scored four goals and added two assists in the two games. Max Plante and Kohanski each had a goal and three assists.
"They’re just special,” Hermantown coach Pat Andrews said about his top trio. “I sometimes catch myself watching them, you know. They just keep rolling, and none of them have the puck for more than a second on their stick. And it's just movement. It’s like art.”
While other top teams, such as Hill-Murray, Eden Prairie and Benilde-St. Margaret’s, to name three, are still working through early-season lineup tweaks and building chemistry, the Hawks appeared to be in midseason form. Nice-to-meet-yous were unnecessary this fall in Hermantown, where the Hawks return a veteran club led by Zam Plante and star defenseman Ty Hanson, both Minnesota Duluth commits. Zam Plante is the state’s top returning scorer with 61 points scored in 20 games last season.
“Hermantown is the number one team in Class A, but they could easily be the number one ranked team in all of hockey,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Ken Pauly said. “They are double-A good. They are top five in the state for sure, easily.”
Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner expressed similar sentiments about the Hawks, who grabbed a 2-0 lead early in the second period, saw Hill-Murray cut the advantage in half on an Anthony Madigan goal late in the second, then pulled away in the third with two more goals, one of them an empty netter from Kohanski.
“Those guys have been playing together, you can just tell,” Lechner said. “They know where each other are. They are a good club. A really good club.”
Max Plante was one of the first-period goal-scorers for the Hawks. The first varsity goal of his career. He put on a good show during the celebration in front of the Hawks’ bench, whooping it up and flapping his arms as he skated past.
“I think he was pretty excited to get number one,” Andrews said. “The first of many, hopefully.”
The Plante brothers boiled their on-ice chemistry down to trusting each other to make the right decision, then execute the proper play.
“We have trust,” Max said. “I think that's what the chemistry is.”
“We know the other guy is trying to get us the puck as much as we are trying to get it to them,” Zam said. “We trust each other, and that makes it fun.”
Hill-Murray (1-2-0), meanwhile, has deployed three different lineups in each of its three games as it deals with injury and eligibility issues. It’s hard to build trust, chemistry or most anything else when you’re playing alongside a different guy every night.
“What are we learning?” Lechner said. “We have to put a team together. We have pieces of individuals, but there’s no flow, there's no chemistry.
“So it’s just a matter of getting better.”