Fans line up for start of UND hockey ticket sales

GRAND FORKS--The first puck drop at the Ralph Engelstad Arena may be more than a month away, but that's not stopping dedicated Fighting Hawks fans from getting their tickets early.
Hockey fans purchase their single-game tickets at the Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday morning. (Sydney Mook / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS-The first puck drop at the Ralph Engelstad Arena may be more than a month away, but that's not stopping dedicated Fighting Hawks fans from getting their tickets early.

Single-game tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. While most people opt to buy their tickets online, Barbara Young and Dale Mortensen have been traveling more than three hours from Ellendale, N.D., to Grand Forks for roughly 10 years to be there when the box office opens at The Ralph. They normally buy around 40 to 50 tickets for themselves, as well as friends and family to go to games all year.

The couple were first in line Friday, waiting in their lawn chairs for the ticket box to officially open. They chatted with REA General Manager Jody Hodgson about this year's team and about how the two started coming to the games.

"When we first came upon the idea of hockey, I knew nothing about it and he (Mortensen) gave me a crash course," Young said.

Mortensen had previously lived in Grand Forks for about 15 years and said it is difficult not to fall in love with the sport.

"You don't live in Grand Forks and not become a hockey fan," he said with a chuckle. "Before I moved up here I didn't hardly know what a hockey puck was but being here you become a part of the culture."

Young said they love everything about coming to The Ralph for hockey games.

"The atmosphere, the arena, everything, it's just a neat place to come" she said. "The enthusiasm, the atmosphere starts as soon as you get into the parking lot. It's just fantastic."

After purchasing tickets, Mortensen said the couple always goes to a hotel to book their rooms in advance. He said they always get enough hotel rooms for their friends and family as well. Then after every game they head back over to the rooms and celebrate with drinks and just spend time together.

Young said the only thing that even gets close to the start of hockey season is the opening of deer season, but they cannot wait for their first puck drop this year.

"When you experience a hockey game here, in The Ralph, you experience a hockey game," she said. "You experience what it's like to be in with a group of people that absolutely love the game. It just is unbelievable. We get really excited."