Growing up, Casey Johnson had friends in the Riverside neighborhood.

They'd go to school, then gather together at the rink.

"That was the thing," the UND senior forward said. "When you grow up in Grand Forks, you go there right after school until 8:30 when the lights shut off. It's a lot of fun."

On Wednesday, he went back there for more fun pickup games. This time, he with the No. 1-ranked college hockey team in the country.

UND, which has this weekend off, decided to take its morning skate to Riverside Park -- a weather-permitting program tradition that has been scratched the past two years because of extreme cold.

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"It just brings back all the childhood memories," Johnson said. "Everyone skated outdoors, so it's kind of going back to the roots and bringing out the fun side of hockey instead of all the business. Especially with us having this week off, it's kind of nice to get away for a little bit."

UND forward Jasper Weatherby, wearing Shane Pinto's USA World Junior Championship jersey, celebrates a goal during Wednesday morning's skate at Riverside Park in Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
UND forward Jasper Weatherby, wearing Shane Pinto's USA World Junior Championship jersey, celebrates a goal during Wednesday morning's skate at Riverside Park in Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

The Fighting Hawks, who sit in first place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference standings and are 21-3-3 overall, played a couple of four-on-four games.

They all picked out random jerseys to wear. Most of them wore their teammates' jerseys.

Who had the best jersey?

"Besides my East Side jersey?" said UND captain Colton Poolman, who grew up skating outdoors at Nash and Stauss Parks in East Grand Forks. "There were a couple of Penticton ones I liked. Jackson Keane wore Gavin Hain's orange Grand Rapids jersey. Casey Johnson had a good Minot Minotauros one."

After the skate, Keane, wearing that Rapids jersey, took a photo with Harrison Blaisdell, who was wearing Ethan Frisch's Moorhead High jersey.

"A first- and second-place pic," Keane said, referring to the 2017 Minnesota state championship game, where Hain had a hat trick to beat Frisch and Moorhead in the final.

UND coach Brad Berry gave goalie Peter Thome the day off after the junior played both games last weekend. Notably, when the Fighting Hawks won the 2016 NCAA national title, Cam Johnson also took off the outdoor skate.

Even though Thome wasn't out there, his jersey was in both nets.

Adam Scheel wore Thome's North American Hockey League Top Prospects Game jersey, while Harrison Feeney wore Thome's Waterloo BlackHawks sweater.

UND goalies Harrison Feeney (left) and Adam Scheel waive to a passing car on Gateway Drive as they are transported back to Ralph Engelstad Arena after the team's Wednesday morning skate at Riverside Park. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
UND goalies Harrison Feeney (left) and Adam Scheel waive to a passing car on Gateway Drive as they are transported back to Ralph Engelstad Arena after the team's Wednesday morning skate at Riverside Park. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Berry also let Gabe Bast, Matt Kiersted and Hain have the day off as they are recovering from injuries.

"It was good to have a little day off, but not really," Poolman said. "You're still around the team, but not in such a serious setting. You're back to just playing hockey with your buddies and not caring about much. It was a good breather today."

For the younger players, it's the first time they've participated on this, thanks to cooperative weather. It was about 16 degrees and sunny when they hit the ice.

"It was the perfect day, pretty much," Keane said. "It wasn't freezing cold."

UND players Colton Poolman (East Grand Forks jersey), Casey Johnson (Minot Minotauros jersey), Andrew Peski (wearing a Dixon Bowen jersey), Jordan Kawaguchi (wearing a Matt Kiersted jersey), Jonny Tychonick (wearing a Paul LaDue jersey) and Shane Pinto (wearing a Mark Senden jersey) wait for their shift at Riverside Park on Wednesday morning. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
UND players Colton Poolman (East Grand Forks jersey), Casey Johnson (Minot Minotauros jersey), Andrew Peski (wearing a Dixon Bowen jersey), Jordan Kawaguchi (wearing a Matt Kiersted jersey), Jonny Tychonick (wearing a Paul LaDue jersey) and Shane Pinto (wearing a Mark Senden jersey) wait for their shift at Riverside Park on Wednesday morning. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

The list of everyone's jerseys

Andrew Peski: Dixon Bowen's Penticton Vees

Casey Johnson: his own Minot Minotauros

Colton Poolman: his own East Grand Forks Green Wave

Zach Yon: his own Roseau Rams

Harrison Blaisdell: Ethan Frisch's Moorhead Spuds

Dixon Bowen: Andrew Peski's Ottawa District Hockey Association

Westin Michaud: Jacob Bernard-Docker's Canadian World Juniors

Carson Albrecht: Josh Rieger's Estavan Bruins

Jasper Weatherby: Shane Pinto's USA World Juniors

Ethan Frisch: Harrison Blaisdell's Canada World Junior A Challenge

Grant Mismash: Collin Adams's Honeybanked

Jonny Tychonick: Paul LaDue's Ontario Reign

Collin Adams: Grant Mismash's Shattuck-St. Mary's

Mark Senden: Jonny Tychonick's Penticton Vees

Josh Rieger: Jordan Kawaguchi's Canada World Junior A Challenge

Jackson Keane: Gavin Hain's Grand Rapids

Shane Pinto: Mark Senden's Fargo Force

Jacob Bernard-Docker: Jasper Weatherby's Wenatchee Wild

Cole Smith: Sidney Crosby's Canada Olympic

Judd Caulfield: Westin Michaud's Corpus Christi IceRays

Jordan Kawaguchi: Matt Kiersted's USHL Top Prospects Game

Adam Scheel: Peter Thome's NAHL Top Prospects Game

Harrison Feeney: Peter Thome's Waterloo BlackHawks

Maintenance days: Gabe Bast, Matt Kiersted, Gavin Hain, Peter Thome

UND coach Brad Berry gives a high-five to Mark Senden as he heads to the warming house at Riverside Park on Wednesday morning. Senden was wearing Jonny Tychonick's Penticton Vees jersey. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
UND coach Brad Berry gives a high-five to Mark Senden as he heads to the warming house at Riverside Park on Wednesday morning. Senden was wearing Jonny Tychonick's Penticton Vees jersey. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald