Jack Peart (#23), who is committed to St. Cloud State, is the first Thunderhawks’ winner since 2014, when Avery Peterson of Grand Rapids took the honor. Photo: Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
From Bill Baker to the late Scot Kleinendorst to more recent graduate Jake Bischoff, top-end defensemen are a through line in Grand Rapids’ place among the state’s elite hockey programs.
Jack Peart confirmed his place this season, receiving the 37th annual Mr. Hockey Award on Monday.
"I told him at the end of the year, ‘You have no idea the footprint you’ve left in this program,’ ” Thunderhawks coach Wade Chiodo said. “It’s something he’ll understand and cherish when it’s all said and done.”
Peart, who has committed to St. Cloud State, is the first Thunderhawks winner since Avery Peterson in 2014. Peart is the first defenseman chosen since Eden Prairie’s Nick Leddy in 2009.
Peart scored 11 goals and added 24 assists and led Grand Rapids the Class 2A, Section 7 championship game.
He took the spotlight Monday on a stage crowded with exceptional blue line talent. Four additional defensemen were Mr. Hockey finalists — and that doesn’t include Eden Prairie senior Mason Langenbrunner, who was selected in the 2020 NHL Draft.
“It’s really special,” Peart said. “I’ve played against a lot of these guys growing up. We’ve pushed each other and made each other better.”
The other finalists were Carter Batchelder, Eden Prairie'; Cam Boche, Lakeville South; Jackson Hallum, St. Thomas Academy; Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year Kyle Kukkonen, Maple Grove; Luke Levandowski, Rosemount; Luke Mittelstadt, Eden Prairie; Henry Nelson, Maple Grove; Joe Palodichuk, Hill-Murray, and Joey Pierce, Hermantown.
Palodichuk saw Peart when Grand Rapids defeated the Pioneers 2-1 on Jan. 23.
“His poise it what sets him apart,” Palodichuk said. “He can be a one-man show. He can break the puck out by himself and make plays.”
Jack Wieneke of Maple Grove won the Frank Brimsek Award, which recognizes Minnesota’s top senior goaltender. Other finalists were Aksel Reid (Blake) and Alex Timmons (Gentry Academy).
Wieneke, undecided on his college plans, went 19-2 this season with a 1.65 goals-against average and a .916 saves percentage and four shutouts. He helped the Crimson reach the Class 2A state tournament semifinals.
Both awards are presented by the Minnesota All Sports Alliance. Winners are selected by a group of National Hockey League scouts, Junior scouts, coaches and media members.