Grand Forks, ND — Friday night, Ralph Engelstad Arena and the University of North Dakota Hockey team honored super fan, Al Pearson, who has been religiously attending UND hockey games for 60 years. Pearson is a legacy in the UND hockey community, known for his white cowboy hat and his epic bus trips. He’s been a fixture at UND hockey games for six decades. He’s also a dedicated fan; two hours prior to game time, he was discharged from Altru Hospital after having blood clots in his lungs. Doesn’t appear anything was going to prevent him from attending Friday’s game between Minnesota Duluth and the University of North Dakota.
— RalphEngelstadArena (@TheREA) January 17, 2023
On this special night, the hometown team didn’t disappoint as they ended a two-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Bulldogs. Pearson’s dedication to UND hockey hasn’t gone unnoticed by UND players. In the post-game press conference following Friday’s game, UND forward Gavin Hain was asked what it meant to him to see Pearson leave the hospital so he could attend Friday’s game.
“I’ve heard stories about him doing some crazy things,” Hain said. “I heard a story about him at the national championship game where his daughter kept wanting him to keep sitting in the chair. But in 2016 He was standing on the chair dancing around; he loves this program and loves the team. Obviously, expect nothing less but unbelievable.”
No doubt, Pearson has made a lasting impression on the UND players.
“I’ve been here a while I’ve got to know him a little bit,” Hain said. “I’ve been to his house and played cribbage with him a few times. So honestly, I was a little emotional. I had some tears in my eyes and kind of getting them now, he’s an awesome guy. He’s done a lot for this program. Me, and Mark obviously know him better than probably most guys, he’s super cool and he’s an unbelievable guy.”
“Everything he does for us, and has done, whether it’s the buses, or he just comes around the rink, he kind of lifts guys spirits up, It’s awesome,” UND Captain Mark said in an interview with WDAZ News.
UND head coach Brad Berry on the significance of Al Person night.
“Yeah, it was amazing,” Berry said. “He had the battle to get here tonight. He was in the hospital yesterday, and he got out today. Just to acknowledge somebody like that; he’s one of our most loyal and passionate fans. He’s more than a fan, he’s part of our family here. He goes back generations as far as getting people excited about North Dakota hockey, not only at the Ralph but on the road. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to do that, and North Dakota hockey is his life. We never could pay him back for the things that he’s done for this program.”
In the opening seconds of the third period, junior forward Luis Jamernik V scored his third goal of the season to give UND a 3-1 lead. While celebrating his goal, Jamernik V pointed to Pearson sitting in the stands to salute him. Yes, win one for Al.
— North Dakota MHockey (@UNDmhockey) January 21, 2023