UND delivers six-goal night to help Ludvig Persson get win over his old team

Nov. 17—GRAND FORKS — Two pucks were deflected by Ludvig Persson on Friday night.

Two more were snapped past him on wrist shots.

His stat line — nine saves on 13 shots — won't be one he savors from his brilliant start to the 2023-24 season, but his teammates made sure he'd leave Ralph Engelstad Arena with a victory over his old team.

Six different Fighting Hawks scored goals as UND beat Miami 6-4 in the series opener in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Jackson Blake had a goal and two assists — his fourth three-point game of the season. Owen McLaughlin and Hunter Johannes each had a goal and an assist. Carson Albrecht and Dylan James tallied their first goals of the season. Jayden Perron scored his sixth — and hit the crossbar for the sixth time. Cameron Berg had two assists.

No. 2 UND has won four in a row and is now 8-2-1.

The Fighting Hawks will go for the series sweep at 6:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena — and possibly the nation's No. 1 ranking. The current top-of-the-poll dweller, Wisconsin, lost to Michigan State on Friday.

"I thought we did a good job offensively; we generated chances," UND coach Brad Berry said. "Defensively, I thought we were a little inconsistent in our play throughout the game. We're usually better than that as far as being tighter defensively as a five-man unit. I know we can be a lot better tomorrow in that regard."

The game was a special one for Persson, who transferred to UND this summer after spending three seasons at Miami. It was his first time playing against his old team.

His parents, Anders and Ulrika, also traveled from his native Sweden for the series.

"Obviously, this week is very important to him," Blake said. "To get a win for him is huge."

UND was not happy with its defensive play in front of Persson, though.

The Fighting Hawks gave up goals to P.J. Fletcher and Matthew Barbolini 51 seconds apart in the second period to turn a 3-0 game into a one-goal contest.

Blake scored to make it 4-2 with 7:18 left in second period. Then, the Fighting Hawks put the throttle down and outshot Miami 17-0 over the next 17 minutes, while adding two more goals to pull away.

The RedHawks tacked on two goals in the final 2:28 to make the game closer on the scoreboard.

Spencer Cox scored on a four-on-three power play — Miami's only man advantage of the night — while Blake Mesenburg got one on a deflection with 2.4 seconds to go. Mesenburg has scored in all three career games in Ralph Engelstad Arena. He's scored none in his other 33.

"I talked to the guys after the game here a little bit and I think there's a little somber feeling there," Berry said. "Don't get me wrong. A win is a win. But when you know you haven't played your best, especially defensively, that's good guys know we can be better in that regard and we don't gloss over things. That's what pushes the bar up high."

For Persson, the successful start to the season is unlike what he experienced in three seasons at Miami. The RedHawks finished last place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in all three years.

Persson is currently on his longest-career winning streak — four games.

His eight victories matches his single-season career high. He has a chance to surpass that before Thanksgiving.

"It's great to see we put up that 'W' for him, albeit it's a situation where we probably didn't play as well as we should have defensively," Berry said. "That's a good team over there. They have guys who can make plays. They worked hard. We have to try to offset that by working a little bit harder."

Friday marked the third time UND has hit the six-goal mark this season.

The Fighting Hawks only had one power-play chance in the game, but converted it when Johannes beat Logan Neaton (36 saves) for his sixth of the season.

"We had a lot of good, but I feel like we can bring a full 60 (minutes)," Blake said. "Tonight, we took the foot off the gas. They're going to be coming. They got swept last weekend by CC and losing tonight doesn't help. We know they're going to have a big push tomorrow."