Article Written by Samantha Roering. Photo by Samantha Roering.
Eleven years ago, a young Jack Peart attempted to brave the cold to watch Hockey Day Minnesota in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Peart had gotten on skates from an early age largely because of his dad, who coached high school hockey. From the moment he got his first pair of skates at age three, Jack knew he wanted to play the sport and never looked back.
Some of his earliest hockey idols were athletes he grew up watching play high school hockey. Micah Miller, someone Peart would later on become teammates with, was someone that Jack looked up to as a kid. Jake Bischoff, defenseman for the Henderson Silver Knights, was another Grand Rapids alum that Peart enjoyed watching.
Hockey was an integral part of his childhood, and his hometown was where his love for the game first grew, but on Hockey Day Minnesota 2013, the love for the game did not surpass the frigid temperatures.
“It was the coldest day I’ve ever been outside. I couldn’t even watch the whole game there,” Peart admitted, “I had to go to a friend’s house, get in the heat, and watch it on TV.”
Cold weather aside, Peart has a lot of respect for the way Hockey Day Minnesota is organized and the opportunity it brings to high school hockey players, wishing that he could’ve gotten the chance to participate in it when he was in high school.
Though he might not have played in Hockey Day Minnesota, Peart had many great experiences playing high school hockey. Not only did he get the opportunity to captain his high school team, but he also played junior hockey in the USHL before and after the high school season.
During his senior year of high school, the 2020-2021 season, the defensemen played in 18 games, scoring 11 goals and picking up 24 assists. This effort would lead to him being named Minnesota Mr Hockey, an award that goes out to the most outstanding senior hockey player in the state.
The Minnesota Mr. Hockey ceremony was a memorable experience for him. He’s especially grateful to have shared the moment with his parents.
“My coaches even came down to the ceremony, so that was a really special day, one I’ll never forget,” Peart recalled.
When it came time to play college hockey, Coach Larson was a factor in Jack’s decision to play at St. Cloud State University.
Coach Larson was originally recruiting Peart for the University of Minnesota Duluth, the college Larson was the assistant coach for at the time. Peart was impressed with how Larson coached and the mindset he brought to the ice. When Larson began coaching at St. Cloud State, Peart decided to follow him, describing it as the best decision of his life.
At St. Cloud State, Peart has seen an evolution of his game. As soon as he began his freshman year, he realized how crucial college hockey would be for his development.
“I feel like I have been getting better and better. Being able to practice with the top-caliber guys we have here, it just helps your development so much,” Peart said.
Last season, he was part of the team that won the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. The team would then go on to win a regional tournament game against Minnesota State, in which Peart scored a goal. It hasn’t just been college hockey that has helped him develop. Peart has had the opportunity to play nationally in World Juniors in 2022 and 2023. The 2023 team even won a bronze medal, and Peart contributed with three points in the tournament.
World Juniors allowed him to compete alongside the likes of Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud, among other guys whom he had experience playing against.
Though to some, it might seem tense to play alongside your competitors midseason, college rivalries go away the moment the Team USA jersey gets put on.
“Every guy you’re playing with is putting on that USA jersey and that’s really special. It’s something you never take for granted,” Peart explained.
One of the guys that Peart got to play with on the national level is Brock Faber, defenseman of the Minnesota Wild. For Peart, he remarks that Faber was a tough opponent on the ice, but an awesome guy to be on a team with.
Peart might find himself on the same team as Faber again in the future, as Peart was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2021. He grew up a fan of the Wild, so to be drafted by the organization he cheered for as a kid is special to him.
He remembers NHL draft day, sitting in a hotel lobby with his family, watching the draft on television when he found out he’d been selected in the second round at #54 overall. Moments later, his phone began to blow up with congratulatory messages from friends, family, and teammates.
“I saw my name come across the screen and I don’t even remember what I did. It’s just a bunch of emotions at one time,” Peart recalled.
The draft process can be stressful for some, full of paperwork and phone calls. For Peart, he remembers having good conversations with many teams, the Wild being one of them. Despite building that good relationship, he wasn’t sure what was going to happen until he saw his name appear on the screen next to the Minnesota Wild logo.
It’s a dream for any kid, to be drafted by the team they grew up watching, and for Peart, it happened, but the work doesn’t stop there. It takes just as much dedication and determination to make the NHL once drafted.
For Peart, he’s one stride closer to making that happen. With every shift and off-ice workout, he continues to take his game to the next level. If he keeps it up, he might one day play professionally for the state of hockey.
“To someday be able to put a Wild jersey on, that’d be cool,” Peart said