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Miami hockey's Swedish connection: how two best friends ended up in Oxford, an ocean away from home

<p>Ludvig Persson and Hampus Rydqvist arrive to Cady Arena together before a game last year.</p>

Ludvig Persson and Hampus Rydqvist arrive to Cady Arena together before a game last year.

Picture this: two Swedish best friends end up playing hockey and going to college together in Oxford, Ohio. 

Sounds like things could get pretty interesting, right?

Fortunately, this isn’t the beginning of some low-budget Netflix project. It’s the story of Ludvig Persson and Hampus Rydqvist, both juniors on Miami’s NCAA Division I hockey team. 

Close friends for about six years, the pair have had quite interesting hockey careers leading up to their time at Miami. 

Hampus was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, the second-largest city in the country. He started playing hockey at the age of two for an organization known as Frölunda HC.

He played for Frölunda until he was 15, then spent two years playing for the Malmö Redhawks, before returning to Frölunda for two more years. 

Ludvig was born in the Gothenburg area as well, hailing from a suburb outside of the city known as Hindås. He started playing for his local team around the age of six, then joined Bäcken HC, another organization based in Gothenburg, playing for the club from the ages of 10 to 17.

From Bäcken, Ludvig went on to spend three years playing for Frölunda, the final two alongside Hampus, after he returned from his stint with Malmö. During their time together with Frölunda, the pair became close friends. 

After their careers with Frölunda came to an end, both Ludvig and Hampus had college hockey aspirations, so they came to the U.S. to play junior hockey in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with hopes of receiving Division I offers. 

Ludvig traveled to Texas to join the Lone Star Brahmas, while Hampus ended up with the Maryland Black Bears. 

The pair were separated physically, but they remained close.

“We had a little physical detour when Ludvig was in Lone Star and I was in Maryland where we were both separated, but we still talked every other day,” Rydqvist said. 

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Unfortunately, their season in the NAHL was shut down due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, both ended up receiving offers from Miami. 

Ludvig was the first to commit.

“Miami contacted me in early December of that year, and I came to visit and I just loved it,” he said. “It’s a really good opportunity, coming here and playing some of the best competition in college hockey.” 

Hampus ended up committing as well, and knowing that Ludvig loved the school made him confident in his decision.

“When I first had contact with [Miami], Ludvig was already committed, so I knew a little bit about the school. I knew it was going to be a good fit, and I knew that if Ludvig liked it, then I liked it.” 

Hampus and Ludvig agreed that their favorite memory together has been their experience at Miami. 

“It’s really hard for our friends to understand what we do here,” Hampus said. “How we do school and hockey and everything and what a high level the hockey is here.”

“Playing in front of really good fans and all the buildings we go to and all the new places we see together, the full college hockey experience is the best part about being here,” Ludvig said.

Beyond Miami, the pair each want to pursue professional hockey careers. For Ludvig, the goal is very simple.

“NHL for sure,” Ludvig said. “We’ll see what happens, but that’s my answer.” 

Hampus simply wants to continue his hockey career for as long as he can.

“The dream is always to play in the NHL, but the goal is probably just to live off hockey for as long as possible, to just enjoy hockey,” Hampus said. “A hockey career is not that long, and to be able to live off that for as many years as possible, that’s what I want to do.”

After first meeting in Gothenburg, splitting up and traveling to Maryland and Texas, and finally reuniting in Oxford, it will be interesting to see where hockey takes this duo next.

Until then, catch the pair at Goggin Ice Center, where each will be playing a very important role for the Redhawks this season. Ludvig is slated to be the starting goaltender, while Hampus will be a top-pair defenseman and a fixture on the power play.

The team kicks off the year against Ferris State this Saturday at Goggin. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:05 pm.