Jack Peart has the look of a veteran ... and an 18-year-old for SCSU
A second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, the defenseman is finding his way during his freshman season with the Huskies. No. 5/6-ranked St. Cloud State plays North Dakota at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Early on in his college career, Jack Peart has discovered that he and St. Cloud State equipment manager Jeremiah Minkel have some things in common.
The Huskies men's hockey team practices in the morning and Peart can be found regularly spending time with the staff member with the most seniority with the program regularly before practice.
"He's extremely low maintenance," Huskies head coach Brett Larson said of Peart. "He acts like an old pro. It's funny because he's in having coffee with Miah most mornings before practice starts. He just shows up and does his work every day. There's not a lot of highs and lows. It's almost a pro mentality of show up, get the work done and be a good teammate ... It's old school and refreshing."
Minkel is in his 22nd season with the program. So what does he talk with the 18-year-old Peart about?
"He loves fishing," said Peart, who is from Grand Rapids. "We tell some fishing stories and he knows one of my buddies back home and fishes with him sometimes. We have a couple things in common we talk about.
"Miah makes coffee for all the boys in the morning. It's good to sit in there and chit-chat with him."
Peart joined the Huskies with one of the most impressive hockey resumes for any freshman. Drafted in the second round (54th overall) of last summer's draft, he is the seventh-highest draft pick to play for St. Cloud State.
He is the second St. Cloud State player (Nate Dey, 2003) who has been named Mr. Hockey in the state of Minnesota during his high school career. Most of this season, Peart has been the defensive partner of senior Nick Perbix, a sixth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Perbix sees similarities between Peart and Jack Ahcan, a former St. Cloud State All-American who made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins last season.
"You wouldn't know he's an 18-year-old if you just watch him play," Perbix said of Peart. "But then in the locker room, he has his moments when you can tell he's a young kid. It's hilarious. I love it. We have a lot of back and forth. We sit pretty close next to each other. We kind of chirp each other a lot. That's the stuff I love. That's what brings teams closer.
"I love playing with him. He's got a crazy amount of skill and he reminds me a lot of Jack Ahcan, who I played with for two years."'
So what are some of the similarities between Peart and Ahcan?
"The overall skill with the puck has amazed me about both of them," said Perbix, an All-NCHC Second Team pick last season. "We do some 'D' drills and I just remember this one drill where we're supposed to shoot around (associate head coach Dave Shyiak) and he's always trying to pressure us. (Peart) couldn't quite get around them and then he picked (the puck) up like he had a lacrosse stick and threw it. Everyone just stopped for a second like, what just happened? That's just what he does.
"It's little things that he does every now that makes everyone stop for a second and say, 'Whoa.' He definitely has some of those moments."
- Read more St. Cloud State coverage on The Rink Live
Jack Peart leaves Fargo Force to rejoin Grand Rapids High School team
Jack Peart, Minnesota's 2021 Mr. Hockey, taken in 2nd round of NHL Draft by the Wild
Former Mr. Hockey Jack Peart signs as athlete with The Rink Live
Peart has six points, is even in plus/minus, 14 penalty minutes and has 10 blocked shots in 10 games. Peart and Larson admit that it has not all been smooth sailing in the early part of the season.
"Defending is definitely harder," said Peart, who played 33 games of junior hockey for the Fargo Force before and after the high school season in 2020-21. "Everyone is bigger, faster. Especially being on the big sheet here, forwards have more ice to work with. Closing gaps and playing body are the two biggest (challenges)."
"I think consistency is one of the biggest things in hockey. I know I've been a little disappointed when I haven't played my best on Friday nights. But it's good to bounce back and it's definitely a learning lesson."
His resiliency and ability to make adjustments from game to game have impressed Larson.
"What's neat about him is you can see what a good player he is and you can see the player he's becoming," Larson said. "But you can also see how tough the transition is to this level, especially with the schedule we've had. I thought Friday night at Mankato and Friday night at Minnesota, you could see that he was a freshman and had to learn. But what I really love about his game is the ability the next night to step in and be a go-to player.
"That tells me that he's able to learn what he's going through, not get down because of it and show up the next night and be even better. That's a sign to me that Jack's heading in the right direction. It isn't easy for anybody with the transition to college hockey. But he's been able to bounce back and keep getting better."
Peart is one of four freshmen on the SCSU roster and its lone teenager on a team that has five players who are 24 or older and there are 11 players who are either seniors or fifth-year college players.
"All of the guys have been awesome and welcoming all the freshmen in with open arms and including us in on everything," Peart said. "It can be a little tough doing that as an upperclassman, a guy who is potentially coming in to play over you. But everyone's been really good about it. Everyone just loves showing up to the rink every day and working to earn a spot."