By Mick Hatten
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — Jack Peart felt good about how he played in 50 percent of the games.
He may have been a bit hard on himself in his assessment.
Peart was named to the Team USA roster for the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. The tournament, which will be held Aug. 13-17 in Fussen, Germany. The other teams in the tournament are the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland.
The 20-player team was selected after the Select 16 Player Development Camp that was held July 7-13 in Amherst, New York. There were 180 players at the camp and teams played five games during the week and then two teams were selected for an All-Star Game the last day.
“Comparing last year to this year, last year was nothing but getting some exposure,” Peart said of playing in the Select 15 camp in 2018. “This year, you’re trying to go all out because it’s a huge honor to represent your country.
“I thought I played a little bit better the first three games. The last three, not as well, but still pretty well.”
Peart will be a junior defenseman on the Grand Rapids High School boys team and has verbally committed to play for St. Cloud State. He had eight goals and 22 points in 26 games for the Thunderhawks, who were 9-17-0 and lost in the first round of the Section 7AA playoffs.
Peart, who is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, was second on the Thunderhawks in assists and points, his first season of high school hockey.
“I thought I played good and it was a good experience to finally play high school hockey,” said Peart, who played bantam hockey in 2017-18. “It was a really fun time, playing with my buddies. We have a good team coming back next year and we should be pretty good.”
Peart has been known as an offensive-minded defenseman, so it should be no surprise that his improvement last season came in a different area.
“For sure in my defensive play,” he said. “When you’re playing against all the top seniors, you have to learn to play defense well or they’re going to expose you. I greatly improved defensively.”
Peart was the first player from the state of Minnesota to verbally commit to Brett Larson last summer after Larson became St. Cloud State’s head coach.
The USA roster was named Saturday, July 13, and it includes six other Minnesotans (Jackson Blake, F, Eden Prairie; Tyler Haskins, F, Rochester; Hobie Headquist, G, Heron Lake; Luke Mittlestadt, D, Eden Prairie; Joe Palodichuk, D, Cottage Grove; and Bennett Schimek, F, Mendota Heights).
Peart said that he knows all of the players from Minnesota on Team USA’s roster said that he learned a lot at the Select 16 camp, on and off the ice. When players are off the ice, they attend presentations from a number of people from different levels of hockey.
“One day, it was a bunch of assistant college hockey coaches and we could ask all of them questions,” he said. “The general manager and head coach from the Green Bay Gamblers talked another day. They were just talking about how you have to take your own path and don’t feel rushed into anything that you do.
“If you really want to make the NHL, it’s on your shoulders. It’s about hard work and taking any path you can to get there.”