GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks has watched Luke Johnson win state championships at both Grand Forks Red River and Grand Forks Central high schools.
The city watched Johnson win an NCAA national championship with the University of North Dakota.
Now, the town may get a chance to see Johnson play at the professional level, too.
The Manitoba Moose and Iowa Wild — the top minor-league affiliates of the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild — announced Monday, Aug. 19, that they will play a pair of American Hockey League exhibition games in Ralph Engelstad Arena this fall.
The games will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth, students, military and seniors.
While Johnson would surely prefer to be with the NHL's Minnesota Wild at that time — Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Wild organization this summer — there's a chance he could be suiting up in those games for Iowa.
There should be at least one former UND player to be a lock to play in the game.
Former UND defenseman Hayden Shaw is under contract with the Moose. Shaw, who was teammates with Johnson on the 2016 NCAA title team, just completed his four years of college eligibility in Grand Forks. He played in 137 collegiate games, tallying 10 goals and 37 points.
Shaw played 15 games with Winnipeg's ECHL team, the Jacksonville IceMen, at the end of last season.
Former East Grand Forks Senior High and UND defenseman Tucker Poolman also is signed with the Winnipeg Jets, but figures to be a strong candidate to make the big club as a right-handed shot defenseman. Poolman is on a one-way contract this season, which means he would get paid the same whether he's in the NHL or AHL. It is unlikely he will be with the Moose at that point.
"We're excited to bring professional hockey back to Ralph Engelstad Arena," said Jody Hodgson, the arena's general manager. "These are some of the best professional hockey players in the world and all of them are competing for spots on an NHL roster. If you're a fan of the Jets or the Wild, this is a great opportunity to see what the future of your favorite team looks like. Every player involved is one small step away from the National Hockey League."