Hockey isn't just a sport in northern Minnesota. Hockey families will tell you it's a lifestyle and it's in their blood. Truer words have never been spoken when you hear the story of Mark Sertich.
The Duluth News Tribune tells the story of the 94-year-old retired office manager and World War II veteran who has been joining a group of the city's firefighters three or four days a week for friendly games of hockey.
Family, friends and his fellow hockey players gathered Wednesday to celebrate Sertich's 94th birthday.
"I really enjoy getting out there with the guys and the companionship and the chance to get to mingle with younger people – that's important for me," Sertich told the News Tribune.
Sertich continues to be hockey tough – even at 94. Last month he fell on the ice and suffered two fractured ribs and a punctured lung. But not even those type of injuries could keep him off the ice.
According to KARE 11, Sertich recovered quickly enough to play in the 40th annual "Snoopy Tournament" out in Santa Rosa, California. He has gone out to the tournament for years to play with hockey players in their 70s or a little older.
In fact, it was at the tournament years ago where Sertich met another Minnesota diehard hockey enthusiast – "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz.
And how is Sertich's game?
"He's not just doddering around out there; he's actually playing a pretty good game," Dane Youngblom, a retired Duluth firefighter, who organized the group more than 30 years ago told the News Tribune.
So it probably wouldn't surprise you to find out Sertich still lives independently, still drives, still mows his yard, and still shovels snow.
"Oh absolutely, you betcha, no question about that," Sertich told KARE 11 when asked if he still plans to be playing hockey when 95 rolls around.