UND likely to face an all-NCHC goalie for the first time this season

The Fighting Hawks will play Miami for the third time Friday night, but they've yet to see freshman standout Ludvig Persson.

Miami freshman goaltender Ludvig Persson makes a save Saturday during a 1-1 overtime tie against Colorado College in the NCHC Pod at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska. Colorado College won the shootout. Photo courtesy of NCHC/Mark Kuhlmann

Ludvig Persson was the biggest surprise of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod.

The Miami freshman goaltender started five games during the 21-day event in Omaha to open the season, posting a .962 save percentage and a 1.19 goals-against average for a struggling RedHawks team that scored a league-low 15 goals in 10 Pod games.

Persson stopped 94 of his final 95 shots in the Pod and navigated his way to second-team all-NCHC honors by picking off wins against nearly every team in the league: second-place St. Cloud State, fourth-place Omaha, fifth-place Denver and sixth-place Western Michigan.

Miami (5-17-2) struggled for much of the year. Persson did not.

The 6-foot-1, 184-pound netminder from Sweden enters the NCHC Frozen Faceoff with a league-leading .930 save percentage, an astounding number for a team with such a low winning percentage.


In fact, since 2012, only one college hockey goalie has finished with a .930 save percentage and a winning percentage under .400. That was Vermont's Stefanos Lekkas (.930, .397) in 2018-19. Depending on how this weekend goes, Persson could join Lekkas in that group.

Another head-shaking stat is that Miami is minus-37 in goal differential this season, but with Persson in goal, the RedHawks are dead-even at even-strength. They've scored 24 and allowed 24.

"I know he's a very good goalie," said UND's Shane Pinto, the NCHC's forward of the year.

That's not knowledge gained from playing against him, though.

UND is the only team in the NCHC that hasn't seen Persson yet.

The RedHawks started sophomore Ben Kraws against UND in their two meetings in the NCHC Pod, which means if Persson starts Friday night's NCHC Frozen Faceoff quarterfinal game (7:37 p.m., Ralph Engelstad Arena), it will mark the first time all season that UND has played against an all-conference goaltender. The other all-league netminder is UND's Adam Scheel.

"He was recognized in our league here with some individual awards that he captured and rightfully so," UND coach Brad Berry said of Persson, who made the all-rookie team and all-NCHC second team. "We've watched him from a distance in the Pod and watched some video on him. He's very athletic. He's very competitive. And he's got a team in front of him that plays extremely hard.

"We know it's going to be tough to try to get pucks and bodies to the net and try to get offensive opportunities, but at the same time, we've done a good job this year accentuating what we need to do to score goals."


Persson, who has started 12 of Miami's last 14 games, has put together several notable performances this season.

He had a 30-save shutout against Omaha and a 26-save shutout against Denver in the Pod. He stopped 38 of 39 shots in a 1-1 tie against Colorado College, his only start against the Tigers this season. He stopped 58 of 60 shots in sweeping Western Michigan in a two-game series at the difficult Lawson Ice Arena in January. And last month, he stopped 55 of 57 shots in a single game at Minnesota Duluth.

"We understand he's the goalie that's probably going to start Friday and he is pretty good," UND captain Jordan Kawaguchi said. "They're a hard-working team as well. We're not underestimating these guys at all. In the playoffs, seeding doesn't really matter. Anything can happen. We're going to go into it like it's our last game -- it potentially could be our last game."

Miami owns all victories by No. 8 seeds

No. 1 seeds are 10-3 all-time against No. 8 seeds in the NCHC quarterfinals.

But all three of those victories by No. 8 seeds have been Miami.

In the league's inaugural season of 2013-14, eighth-place Miami swept league champion St. Cloud State in the first round of the NCHC playoffs, then knocked out UND in the semifinals at the Frozen Faceoff.

In 2018, an eighth-place Miami team again won a game against St. Cloud State, though it lost the series.

This season, because of the pandemic-altered format, it's not a two-game series in the quarterfinals, so the Fighting Hawks can't slip up and still have time to recover.


"I think we're excited not to be playing Omaha again," Pinto said. "We played them like six-straight times and it was a bit of a grind. We may see them in the second game if we do get past Miami. I know Persson is a very good goalie. We've just got to get on him early."

NCHC Frozen Faceoff

Friday's quarterfinals

(2) St. Cloud State vs. (7) Colorado College, 2:37 p.m. (Midco Sports Network,

(1) North Dakota vs. (8) Miami, 7:37 p.m. (Midco Sports Network,

Saturday's quarterfinals

(4) Omaha vs. (5) Denver, 2:37 p.m. (

(3) Minnesota Duluth vs. (6) Western Michigan, 7:37 p.m. (Midco Sports Network,

Monday's semifinals


Quarterfinal winners, 3:05 and 8:05 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Tuesday's championship

Semifinal winners, 7:37 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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