Hermantown High boys hockey coach Patrick Andrews said he isn’t a bit surprised by his team’s impressive 6-0 start, despite the Hawks having played a challenging early-season schedule against Class 2A titans such as then No. 1-ranked Hill-Murray and Benilde-St. Margaret’s and losing top player Zam Plante to a shoulder injury following a check from behind early in the third game of the season at Wayzata.

“It’s been great, and the boys have played well and shown a lot of competitiveness,” said Andrews of his rink-rattin' Hawks. “They’re a hyper-competitive group, very coachable, and we’ve been especially strong defensively and in goal. Mostly, I’m very impressed by the boys' compete."
The mighty Hawks battling against many of the state’s elite Class 2A teams without Plante, an ultra-skilled junior forward and arguably the best player in the state, in the lineup has added to the game-by-game drama.

“You don’t replace Zam, but seeing guys step up to fill the void has been awesome,” said Andrews, Quote Me, Howie’s unanimous 2021-22 218 Preseason Coach of the Year. “Ty Hanson has been awesome, and Dominic Thomas and Gavin Bloomdahl have stepped up. (Kade) Kohanski and (George) Peterson also.

“Guys have a next-man-up mentality, accepted the opportunity to play a larger role.”
Hermantown beat Mahtomedi 3-0 on Saturday, as elite sophomore goaltender Dane Callaway posted a second consecutive shutout.

“We had an extremely slow start, but we were pretty dominating there in the third period,” Andrews said of the Hawks' workmanlike road win against the 1A, third-ranked Zephyrs (4-3).

The Hawks will play host to 1A, No. 10-ranked Duluth Denfeld (6-2) today at 7 p.m. The Lake Superior Conference game will be live-streamed at MNHockey.TV.

“Their top line is outstanding, and we will need to shut them down,” Andrews said of the Hunters. “We expect to play well defensively and hopefully our depth will carry us.”
The Hawks are used to playing with targets plastered on the backs of their sweaters, especially when facing larger 2A schools and against conference heavy underdogs such as Duluth Denfeld.

“It’s everybody’s biggest game against us, and we have to be at our best every game or we’ll lose,” said Andrews. “The focus is to keep getting better every game and practice.”

What does Andrews like most about his team?

“We skate very well,” he said.
An update on Plante, a Division I commit:

“He has a bum shoulder, and hopefully we’ll get him back here after the first of the year,” said Andrews. “He’s a generational player, so special. His hockey IQ and ability is at another level, which sets him apart. He’s always a step ahead of the game, compared to what other players on the ice see. The biggest frustration of him being out of the lineup, for me, is that we don’t get to see him play.

"When Zam and Max (Plante, Zam’s younger brother) are on the ice together, it’s art, it’s poetry. It’s amazing."
Kohanski is a junior super-sniper who plays right wing on the ridiculously explosive Plante line.

“He’s a very complimentary player with the Plantes, very smart,” Andrews said of Kohanski. “He finds the soft spots in the offensive zone, where the Plantes find him, and he’s an excellent finisher.”
Hawks Notebook
Hawks’ AA bantams to watch: River Freeman, A. J. Francisco, Henry Peterson, Victor Plante.
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