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94-year-old is the essence of hockey

Andy Clark / Reuters

Sporting retro Florida Panthers threads, a red Cooper helmet, and a waxed handlebar mustache, 94-year-old rec-league hockey player Mark Sertich looks like the epitome of old-time hockey.

It's fitting, as the World War II veteran has played the game for 85 years. He even celebrated his 94th birthday July 18th in the place he loves most - the arena - accompanied by family and friends.

Sertich laces up three to four times a week with Duluth, Minn. firefighters in pick-up games of shinny, reports The Duluth News Tribune's Jimmy Lovrien.

Sertich never takes a shift off, as his opponents can attest.

"He's not just doddering around out there; he's actually playing a pretty good game," retired firefighter Dane Youngblom said.

Although the games don't allow contact, the timeless skater is still vulnerable to injuries, including a broken rib and a punctured lung from a collision. He's also spit out the odd tooth.

True to the sport's ideals, though, no wound discourages the man who's possibly the world's oldest player from mucking about in front of the net to tuck in the odd biscuit.

At a spry 90 years old, Sertich's notoriety on the ice - paired with his acute vision, powerful skating, accurate passing, and scoring touch - even earned him a tryout with the Minnesota Wild.

Although the team eventually passed on his services, denying Sertich the possibility to play on the biggest stage in the NHL, he still suits up whenever he can, whether there's an audience or not.

The ageless wonder plans to keep skating until he physically can't.

Demonstrating emotion, heart, grit, toughness, skill, and poise, Sertich embodies the essence of ice hockey.

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