ST. PAUL — On a summerlike day in early April, the 2021 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award was handed out at the Minnesota Wild’s practice rink in downtown St. Paul. But awarding the honor somewhere near Division Street in St. Cloud might have been more fitting.
While the current St. Cloud State men's hockey team is headed to Pittsburgh for the NCAA Frozen Four, a future Husky took home prep hockey’s top individual honor. Jack Peart, a defenseman from Grand Rapids, became the 37th winner of the award, which was first given out in 1985.
Peart played the first half of his senior season with the Fargo Force of the USHL, and could have stayed in the junior ranks, but admitted that his goal was to re-join the “boys” in his hometown as soon as the high school season began. In 18 games with the Thunderhawks, Peart put up 11 goals and 35 points.
“What makes Jack special is he’s extremely efficient with his skating and his passing. He’s elite at breaking the puck out and in transitioning with the puck, he’s good offensively,” said Force coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux, who has Peart back on the USHL roster for the end of the USHL season. “That’s an area where I really believe his game can grow and go to another level is his play in the offensive zone and getting pucks through and shooting more.”
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Along with thanking his coaches and his parents for their support, Peart noted that the long bus trips from their northern Minnesota home base were some of his most memorable hockey times.
“Being with the guys on the bus rides, going to Edina, going to Roseau are probably some of the greatest memories I’ve ever had and I’ll never forget them,” said Peart.
There was a definite “Huskies vibe” to the event which was hosted by St. Cloud State alumnus Katie Emmer. Former Huskies player Marty Mjelleli was the chairman of the Mr. Hockey Award this year, and 2003 Mr. Hockey winner Nate Dey, the only previous recipient of the award who played for the Huskies, revealed Peart as the 2021 winner.
The Frank Brimsek Award, for the top prep goalie went to Jack Wieneke of Maple Grove, who backstopped the Crimson’s run to the 2021 Class AA title game. Brimsek played goalie for St. Cloud State in 1933-34 and went on to play in the NHL.
Henry Boucha, the Warroad star who undoubtedly would have won Mr. Hockey had it existed in 1969 when he led the Warriors’ Cinderella run to the title game in the one-class days of the state tournament, was honored with the Mr. Hockey Ambassador Award for his dedication to the game.
The event was held on the ice at TRIA Rink, which is the Minnesota Wild’s practice facility. Representatives from the NHL team noted that former Mr. Hockey winners Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau would play for the Wild versus Colorado on Monday evening a few blocks away at Xcel Energy Center.
Peart is the third player from Grand Rapids to win the award, after Aaron Miskovich in 1997 and Avery Peterson in 2014.