GRAND FORKS - Joanna Pearson stands at the front of the bus as it's getting ready to pull out of the northeast parking lot at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Her father, Al, is sitting in the first seat on the bus right next to her with a Palm Breeze in hand, listening as she reads off the rules to the passengers: Represent UND in a positive light, be respectful and kind, get to know the people sitting near you and clean everything up when you're done.

"Relax, laugh, sip, repeat," she says.

And then, it's time for the final rule.

Joanna begins by saying: "What happens on the bus..."

And she lets the rest of the passengers finish: "...stays on the bus!"

For 45 years, the 80-year-old Al Pearson has been organizing UND hockey fan bus trips to road series, lining up transportation, tickets and hotels.

His daughter, Joanna, has now taken the reins in the last four or five years as Al battles Parkinson's disease, but he's still on all of the trips, sitting in his perch at the front of the bus, chatting with fans as the board.

The passengers have changed over the years, but they've included former UND hockey players, former referees, players' parents, new followers of the program and even Gordon 'Ginny' Christian, one of the founders of the UND hockey program.

In recent years, more newcomers have joined the group, needing to cross off an item on their bucket list: Riding the bus with Al Pearson on a UND hockey road trip.

Fans range in ages from their 20s to 80s.

But when the bus departs The Ralph for its destination, it feels like there's no age gap between the riders at all.

"It's fun because there are so many different personalities, and somehow, they all come together for one main passion," Joanna said. "That passion has grown into this second family for a lot of people."

Some riders have been going on trips for as many as 20 years with Al.

That's the case for Jon Rebsch, whose first trip came during the 2000 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five in Minneapolis.

"I kind of got hooked right then," Rebsch said. "The people on the bus ... it's your bus family. You get to know each other so well. We got out to dinner together. We do vacation trips. We hang out with each other everywhere."

Joanna found that out on her first bus trip.

It happened in the early 2000s. She was living in Fargo and wanted to help build a closer relationship with her father. So, the bus picked her up on the way and she experienced it for the first time.

"I went on a trip to see what he's been doing all these years," Joanna said. "And it was amazing. At first, I just felt awkward because everybody seemed to know everybody. But that only lasted five minutes. Pretty soon, you feel like you've known these people forever.

"It's about that feeling of family. It didn't take me long to understand why he kept doing it."

During the trips, the longtime passengers do what they can to make newcomers feel welcome.

They'll walk up and down the aisle offering baked goods that they made for the trip. Doug Trengen offers his famous Uncle Swany's Salty Pickles. Oh, and there's also a wide assortment of beverages-sodas and beers.

In the back of the bus, there's gambling. Dan McMenamy brings a custom-made board for passengers to throw dice.

Others read, sleep or chat with those sitting next to them.

Sometimes, they'll sing songs or salute the late Tom Ronan, one of the original bus riders.

"I've been doing this for a long of years," Al said. "And I've made a lot of friends."

That includes hotel and ticket managers.

Al and Joanna are able to reserve the tickets and rooms because of decades-long relationships with some hotels and arenas. The Holiday Inn in Duluth will even call the Pearsons once they get Minnesota Duluth's schedule to get their group booked right away.

The bus is not done yet this season.

If UND makes the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul or the NCAA West Regional in Sioux Falls, S.D.-and Al says UND will make it-the bus will be going.

Friday, Feb. 16, it will pull out of The Ralph's parking lot at 6:30 a.m. en route to Omaha and a key road series.

Head coach Brad Berry, who brought the NCAA national championship trophy to Al's house after the team won the title in 2016, said he'll be looking forward to seeing Al, Joanna and the group.

"Back when I played a long, long time ago, he did that," said Berry, who was a defenseman at UND from 1983-86. "I think what he does is he exudes passion. When you see a guy at his age with the energy he has and with the passion he shows for North Dakota hockey everybody else jumps on board. He's an ambassador for our program and I think he teaches the younger generation the tradition and values and culture. And that's a big deal.

"The world changes pretty quick, and sometimes you forget about the past and how significant it is. He remembers it and shares it on a daily basis. He spends a lot of time, money and effort in doing it. He's someone we cherish immensely in our group."