Plante makes big strides

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Despite only getting into hockey seriously at a relatively late age, Plante is just months away from getting drafted into the NHL and there's a good chance he'll go in the first two rounds.

Not bad for a kid who only got into the game as a 10-year-old when is father, Cam Plante, a pro defenceman who played a couple of games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, moved the family back to Brandon from the U.S.

"That's when I started actually playing on a real team and getting into it," said the 17-year-old, who has played defence since Day 1.

"I was late starting but my brother was always skating, I just kind of watched."

That brother would be Tyler, the starting goaltender for the Brandon Wheat Kings, so hockey is certainly in the Plante genes.

So is size as Plante stretches the tape at 6-ft., 5-in. Unlike his hockey career, he was never a late bloomer in the growth department.

"I was always just a freak. You look at the old photos and it always looks like I'm the babysitter," chuckled Plante, who weighs in at 220 lb.

"There were ups and downs but I've always been one of the tallest in my age group."

Plante, who has 38 points from 58 games and is plus-18, reckons the height stems from his mother's side of the family, although Cam is no shrimp at 6 ft. and neither is Tyler, who is 6 ft. 3 in.

"Everybody's tall on my mom's side but my dad's the tallest on his side," said Plante.

While being big is great for Plante as a defenceman, it also means he has to be constantly working on his foot speed, so much so that he jokes he'll be doing it fora long time.

"As a bigger guy, I've had to work on that and it's going to be a continuous thing right up until I'm done hockey," he said.

Now he's working on getting healthy after tearing a ligament in his elbow Feb. 11 in Swift Current.

Plante said he could be back for the final week of the season or the start of playoffs.

Plante had improved to the point where he was lugging tons of ice time alongside Karl Alzner against the opposition's top lines, while seeing plenty of powerplay and penalty killing duty. And that, said Plante, is the main reason he's put up decent numbers this season.

"The ice time is a huge factor plus the confidence I've gotten from going against the top lines all season," said Plante.

Assistant coach Dave Lowry, who handles the Hitmen defence, agrees and knows Plante will be sought out by NHL teams this spring.

"He's taken advantage of an increased workload. He's playing in all key situations," said the former Calgary Flame.

ROAD WARRIORS:

Keegan Dansereau went home and put on a show, scoring a goal and adding two helpers in the Calgary Hitmen's 6-2 thumping of the Blades in Saskatoon to open a three-game road trip.


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