Prep boys hockey: Grand Rapids’ Peart named All-Area Player of the Year
The defeat deprived Peart of appearing in the state tournament, which is why he spurned junior hockey and returned to Grand Rapids for his senior season.
“It was the last time I wore the Grand Rapids shirt,” he said. “I tried to stay on the rink as long as possible because I knew it would be the last time I went out.”
Although Peart did not achieve his dream, it did not mean that his efforts were not noticed. Since the end of the season he was named Mr. Hockey and won the Reed Larson Award for Minnesota’s best defender.
The future St. Cloud State player is also the News Tribune’s All Area Player of the Year.
Peart led his team with 35 points on 11 goals and 24 assists, but his talents surpassed any statistic.
“He’s been in control of the game every time we played him,” said Mike Randolph, Duluth East coach. “He’s very hard to defend and very balanced with the puck and control of his body. And he’s very selfless. He was a level above everyone, but you could tell he was a great teammate. It spoke volumes that he came back to play high school hockey, especially during a pandemic. “
Peart played pre-season with the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League. He considered staying in North Dakota until the Minnesota State High School League officially approved a winter season.
It seems that he made the right decision.
“Look at what he made playing high school – best player in Minnesota and best defender in Minnesota – what tells the players who are going to play juniors, ‘Hey, you don’t have to go play (right away) . ‘ Easton Young, Grand Rapids junior defender, said.
While Peart’s praise seems endless, a common topic from teammates and those who have trained him and against him is that the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder is perfectly calm in pressure situations.
“The stance he has on the ice and his ability to be two steps ahead of the game was remarkable,” said Thunderhawks coach Wade Chiodo. “His anticipation sets him apart from many other players. He’s literally a breakout artist himself, and that’s because he has such a high hockey IQ and poise when he’s got the puck. “
Peart rarely got off the ice in critical situations, something competing coaches envied.
“He wasted little energy,” said Randolph. “He could play minutes like this because of his hockey IQ. I would have done the same. He’s tired, better than many people who are fresh. “
Peart said he worked a lot with power skating coach Andy Shermoen, an assistant at the university, to develop his signature fluid stride.
“The longer your strides and the stronger you are, the more energy you save than if they are short and choppy,” Peart said.
This skating ability allowed Peart to play on getting the puck deep into the offensive zone and still recover on the defensive. Young says he’ll have to study by next season, when he’s likely to take on Peart’s role on the team.
“The way he controls the game is very different from other players,” said Young. “It’s cool how he can step on ice so smoothly and never lose the puck. It’s super impressive. The game revolved around him. “
Grand Rapids set a 15-2-1 record and took the top seed in 7AA. However, the final game didn’t go as Peart had planned. Then Chiodo told him to keep his head up.
“I just told him, ‘Understand the footprint you made for this program in Grand Rapids, right down to our junior hockey program. That footprint will last forever. And one day I know that you will understand what I am talking about, ”said the coach. “I appreciate everything he’s done on and off the ice.”
Weeks later, Peart can appreciate what he and his teammates have also achieved.
“It was very special to be called Mr. Hockey. There are so many good players in the state of Minnesota that I’m very happy, ”he said. “It was cool to grow up with everyone (my teammates) and try to pursue a dream with them. We fell short, but I know we made a good footprint at Grand Rapids Hockey. Hopefully next year the team can finish what we started. “