As the world's oldest hockey player, Mark Sertich is undaunted by challenges - even the challenge of being filmed for a commercial.
"It was fun," the 95-year-old West Duluth man said this week. "It was a 12-hour day from 7 in the morning to 7 at night."
Sertich, who plays hockey at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center, will be featured in a commercial filmed by the Mother London ad agency for Nokia, the Finnish communications company, according to Shari Olson, administrative assistant at the Heritage Center.
The crew filming the commercial was in town for three days last week, Sertich said, spending most of their time at the Heritage Center but also traveling to other sites. On the rink, they filmed Sertich, a World War II veteran who served under Gen. George Patton, skating with much younger men.
"It was a unity thing between different generations," Sertich said of the commercial's theme. "They kind of wanted to have younger people together with the older."
That's a theme that Sertich lives, said his friend Erik Roadfeldt, a captain at the Lakeside station for the Duluth Fire Department.
"He talks about 75 percent of exercise is just getting out that front door," said Roadfeldt, 49. "The other thing he said that stuck with me is how important it is as we age to get reconnected to the younger generation."
Olson said the ad agency first contacted her about Sertich, explaining that they had seen his name listed as the world's oldest hockey player in the Guinness Book of World Records and learned more with additional research. Sertich, easily recognizable with his trademark handlebar mustache, has been featured several times in the News Tribune and was the subject of pieces aired by CBS News and NBC Sports when he was a mere 94-year-old.
They also might have learned about Sertich's annual participation in the Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament, an event in California created by "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz, who once drew a personalized comic strip for Sertich featuring Snoopy with a handlebar mustache.
Olson referred them to Sertich's friend Dane Youngblom, who manages the Duluth firefighters' skate at the Heritage Center, in which Sertich often participates.
"I said, 'Well, I'll check and see if Mark's interested in doing it,' " Youngblom related. "I did, and he said sure, and so we set up all the people that they needed and the equipment and gear and the date."
The agency was interested in the mustache, Youngblom said.
"That was one of the things they said when I talked to them," Youngblom related. "They said, 'Well, make sure he doesn't touch his mustache.' I said, 'You don't have to worry about that.' "
The filming was grueling, Roadfeldt said. Sertich's grandson, Dan, would sometimes remind the crew that his grandfather needed an occasional break.
"It's a lot of takes and setups and so forth," Roadfeldt said. "They've got cameras all over. Sometimes they get what they want, and sometimes they don't."
The crew worked hard and asked for hard work, Olson agreed.
"They had him here early," she said of Sertich. "They let him go home for a nap and said, 'We'll see you at 4 o'clock.' "
Olson said she was surprised by how many people it took to stage a 30-second commercial. The filmmakers staged a mock game and paid people $20 apiece to sit in the stands, she added.
She was told the commercial will be shown in Europe only, Olson said, but the agency said it might share it with the Heritage Center along with still photos they took.
Sertich offered an understated response to the experience.
"It's certainly not something that happens every day," he said.