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UMD men's hockey: Biondi scores twice to give Bulldogs, Gilling a key win over Miami

RedHawks goaltender Ludvig Persson again stonewalled the Bulldogs with 49 saves, but UMD was able to break through late in the first period and early in the second.

Men's hockey players in bronze and black uniforms compete with players in white and maroon uniforms at Amsoil Arena
Minnesota Duluth forward Blake Biondi (7) celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against Western Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. The goal was disallowed after official review.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

OXFORD, Ohio — Back in January, Miami sophomore goaltender Ludvig Persson made 50 saves to force a 2-2 overtime tie with Minnesota Duluth at Amsoil Arena, and the RedHawks were able to pick up an extra league point in a shootout.

Persson made 49 saves Friday at the Goggin Ice Center in Oxford, Ohio, but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs got two goals from sophomore wing Blake Biondi and another from senior defenseman Matt Anderson to beat the RedHawks 3-1 in NCHC play.

Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. CT on Saturday back in Oxford.

“He's playing well. We peppered him all night,” Biondi said of Persson. “I mean, 50-plus shots and thankfully a couple went in for us. We just found a way to win on the road. It was a good road win.”

Both of Biondi’s goals came late in periods. The Hermantown native gave UMD a 1-0 lead with 2:22 to go the first period by backhanding a puck in on the power play. Then with 1:36 left in the second, he poked a rebound through that came off a blast by sophomore defenseman Wyatt Kaiser.


Biondi thought he had a hat trick in the third, but the puck caught the crossbar.

Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said Biondi’s power play goal late in the first provided the team a big mental boost, as the Bulldogs outshot the RedHawks 23-6 in the first period, but were close to being tied at the intermission.

“Yeah, the backhander was nice,” Sandelin said. “We were running out of time on the power play. It’s funny how sometimes it comes off kind of a broken play, but it’s more of a re-attack. I thought it was a great shot. Obviously a big goal and got us going because we were outshooting them, kind of outplaying them possession wise, but we had nothing to show for it. So it was a big goal.”

Playing his first game since suffering a lower body injury on Feb. 11 at Denver, Kaiser assisted on a pair of Bulldogs goals Friday. The first came just as he was released from the penalty box. Kaiser sprung Anderson and freshman center Carter Loney on a two-on-one rush, and Anderson held the puck to beat Persson five-hole.

“Finally,” Sandelin said of Anderson scoring on a breakaway. “He’s had a lot of chances, so it was nice to see it go in for him.”

Anderson’s goal came after the Bulldogs failed to convert on a 5-on-3 power play that spanned 1:48 as Persson robbed former teammate Casey Gilling, now a fifth-year senior with the Bulldogs, and UMD fifth-year wing Koby Bender with glove saves. Fifth-year senior wing Kobe Roth then didn’t connect with the back door open.


UMD’s special teams came through at the end, however, killing off a two-minute 6-on-4 Miami advantage late after Persson vacated the net and the home crowd got the officials to call UMD fifth-year senior defenseman Louie Roehl for roughing.

“It was a good win,” Sandelin said. “I thought that our guys played pretty well. A couple couple things I thought were self induced, but it's going to happen. I was nice to score right away on the power play. The 5-on-3 had some good looks, we just didn't execute. They made a push at the end, but I thought our guys did a good job on the 6-on-4, and (Ryan Fanti) made a couple big saves. I thought overall it was a good, good 60 minutes.”

Gilling returns to Miami

Minnesota Duluth forward Casey Gilling (37) controls the puck near North Dakota forward Louis Jamernik (27) on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Gilling played 60 games over four seasons from 2017-2021 at Steve “Coach” Cady Arena inside the Goggin Ice Center wearing red and white.

On Friday, he stepped onto the ice Cady Arena ice for the 61st time, but now he was wearing maroon and gold. It’s been a good trip back to his alma mater thus far, especially after his Bulldogs got the win Friday.

“It's great to be back,” Gilling said. “It's my first time being back since graduating, so it's awesome to be back on campus, seeing everything. Obviously a lot different experience this time around, but it's been great so far.”

Gilling graduated from Miami last spring with a degree in sports leadership and management and transferred to the Bulldogs in the offseason to pursue a master’s degree in education and play one more year of college hockey, which he is able to do after the NCAA granted all student-athletes from the 2020-21 season another year of eligibility.

Gilling said he didn’t have anything specific he was aching to hit up back in Oxford as the best memories he has from his time at Miami were the friends he made over his four seasons.

“I have friends here that'll be my friends the rest of my life,” Gilling said. “Those memories and those relationships, that’s the first thing I always think of whenever I think of this place.”


Gilling already saw his former team back in January, and he posted a goal and an assist in the 4-1 win on Jan. 14 prior to the tie and shootout loss on Jan. 5. In his first game back at Oxford on Friday, he put nine shots on Persson, but didn’t pick up a point. He was also 15-8 on faceoffs.

Biondi said Gilling was playing with an extra level of intensity and passion Friday back in Oxford, and because of that, Biondi said the team is aiming to get the RedHawk-turned-Bulldog a second win Saturday.

“We kind of talked prior to, and I think he used the word ‘eager’ to play against them,” Biondi said. “Obviously this was a big win for him, but we got to win tomorrow night and close it out for him. We need the six points, too, so it would be a big winner tomorrow. We got to win tomorrow.”

Box score

Minnesota Duluth 1-2-0—3

Miami 0-1-0—1

First period

1. UMD, Blake Biondi (Quinn Olson, Dominic James), 17:38 (pp)


Second period

2. UMD, Matt Anderson (Wyatt Kaiser), 9:40

3. MU, Chase Pletzke (PJ Fletcher, Derek Daschke), 13:08

4. UMD, Biondi (Kaiser, Darian Gotz), 18:24

Third period

No scoring

Saves — Ryan Fanti, UMD, 20; Ludvig Persson, MU, 49.

Power plays — UMD 1-5, MU 0-2. Penalties — UMD 2-4, MU 6-12.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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