Plante shuts out Hurricanes

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

The shutout king of a year ago finally has one this season.

Tyler Plante -- who set a Brandon record for shutouts last winter -- stopped 24 shots as the Wheat Kings blanked the Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-0 in front of 2,329 at the MTS Centre last night.

WHEAT KINGS 5 HURRICANES 0

Named the 2005 Western Hockey League rookie of the year, Plante set a franchise record for shutouts with six.

Getting the first shutout in his sophomore season was huge for the 18-year-old.

"It's a confidence boost right now," Plante said. "My teammates did a great job in front of me, limiting the chances around the net.

"Big credit to them."

Plante looked like he was on his game right from the opening faceoff, stopping a shot from point blank early in the first period and the Florida Panthers draft pick (second round, 32nd overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft) just rolled on from there.

He said the shutout drought was the furthest thing from his mind.

Yeah, right.

"I try not to think about it as much as possible, otherwise it just lingers in the back of your head," he said. "When the guys are playing like they are, they're keeping a lot of shots to the outside.

"It was a team shutout tonight."

Obviously, and that's what head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon has been trying to get across to his club this season.

Off to a disastrous 11-20-4-1 start to the season, the Wheat Kings have turned it around with some solid defensive play of late. Nine wins in their last 16 games now, thanks mostly to a total clamp-down on opposition chances.

"We really improved defensively as a team going right back to November," McCrimmon said. "Our goals against has been pretty steady through that period and Tyler's play has become more consistent. We had a real tough first couple months to the season and during that time we were a hard team to play goal for.

"Our team defence has improved and it's made the game more manageable for him."

Another Tyler -- this one Dittmer -- scored twice for the Wheat Kings, with Teegan Moore, Daryl Boyle and Corey Courchene scored the others.

Gavin McHale made 28 saves for the Hurricanes. McHale is a former Winnipeg Thrashers goaltender who battled with Plante (who played for Brandon) in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League a couple years back.


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