When Grand Rapids/Greenway senior Sadie Peart entered the Lightning varsity girls’ hockey program as a seventh grader she knew the jump from the youth level to high school was not going to be easy. She wasn’t going to be the faster player or the best stickhandler with the puck on the ice, but there was one thing she could bring, a hard-working attitude.
That mentality carried her throughout her six-year career on varsity for the Lightning, leading Peart to become the program’s second all-time leading scorer (253 points) and all-time assists leader (155). She continued her development this past season leading the Lightning to an 18-win season, while being the leading scorer for the third straight season, amassing 26 goals with 34 assists.
For her efforts on the ice, Peart was named the Girls Hockey Player of the Year by the Grand Rapids Herald-Review, Hibbing Daily Tribune and Mesabi Daily News.
Peart’s impact on the ice has always been apparent to Lightning coach Brad Hyduke as she brought that hark-working effort day-in-day-out in practice, along with a high skill set that set her apart, even as a seventh-grader.
“She’s always been a hard worker,” Hyduke said. “One thing was for sure when you came to practice, you didn’t have to worry about her. It’s a good lesson for younger players to see.
“Ever since she was a young player she’s had an impact at the most important position on the ice (center), aside at times from the goalie. She has that hockey IQ, an innate sense to know where her teammates are, her time and space on the ice and puck possession. She plays all three zones. There’s the faceoffs and how important they are. All along she’s played at a high level in those areas and that’s a testament to her and her abilities.”
As a freshman and sophomore Peart would get up at 5 a.m. and head to the school to lift weights. Her junior and senior years she traveled to the Cities to compete in the Elite League, while spending her time after school committed to the weight room.
“The biggest thing was being the hardest worker,” Peart said. “I knew going into my seventh grade year I would’t be the person out-stickhandling around everyone. I was not at that high of a level, but I knew for sure one thing that would keep me playing at a high level was if I just worked my hardest. It was one of the key things I carried through my whole career.”
Hyduke said with only a handful of players making the jump from the youth level into high school, as a seventh-grader Peart was guided by the support of her family and being able to play with her older sister, Maddi.
“Outside of some other individual sports, you don’t see it very often and at that level in double A, it’s only happened a few times here. But you have to make sure the family is on board and it worked well with her because she had an older sister looking out for her.”
As her career assist total attests, Peart was an unselfish player. She wanted to improve the play of those around her, while developing into a consistent scorer.
“She’ll still tell you that’s her game, she’s still a puck distributor and makes other players better,” Hyduke said. “She’s the type of player in youth hockey, you always wanted to be on her line.
“She gets the puck on her stick and makes plays. And she’s had so much of the game change around her from being a younger player she had other players who could score to being a senior where she was the one you look to to score.”
“I’ve always tried to make people look better and be the person who sets someone else up, do the hard work and they can bury it,” Peart said. “I guess I was born with a hockey sense I got from my dad, it’s just how I’ve always been as a hockey player.
“(My teammates) were all really good players with hard shots so that helps a lot too.”
Peart’s left her impact on the ice, but also set an example for the younger players in the community as well.
“Her last game at the IRA against Cambridge as she was coming off the ice there was a youth player there waiting to give her a hug,” Hyduke said. “Those are the type of players that transcend the sport. We live a small community and it’s important to have players like that are that are there in the community. She’s a legacy player. Our youth program is probably in the best shape it’s ever been in. You need those players that highlight the sport.”
Peart said she’ll always have great memories of her time with the program.
“I’ll always be a Lightning. I can’t think of a better place to grow up at and been in a better program. We may not have always been the best team, but our community has come together as the program has started to grow and we have so much more fans. I know girls hockey is just going to continue to grow so that’s awesome to see.
“For our last game at the IRA I didn’t think I was going to be as sad as I was. It’s definitely bittersweet...I’ve been playing so long so I’m excited to move on to bigger things.”
Peart will continue her hockey career at the Division I level at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut this fall where she’s looking forward to competing at the next level.
“It will be higher-pace game,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of great players there so I want to see how I fit in and how much I can grow as a hockey player.”
All-Iron Range Girls Hockey Team
First Team: Sadie Peart, Sr., F, Grand Rapids/Greenway; Allie Bussey, Jr., F, Hibbing/Chisholm; Claire Vekich, So., F, Grand Rapids/Greenway; Maddie Rewertz, So., D, Hibbing/Chisholm; Katie Scherf, Sr., D, Eveleth-Gilbert; Abby Edstrom, Sr., G, Hibbing/Chisholm.
Second Team: Rachel Woods, So., G, Eveleth-Gilbert; Autumn Gregorich, Jr., D, Eveleth-Gilbert; Sasha Stefan, Sr., D, Grand Rapids/Greenway; Anneka Lundgren, So., F, Eveleth-Gilbert; Maddie Drotts, Sr., F, Grand Rapids/Greenway; Emma Lundell, Jr., F, Hibbing/Chisholm.