Linesman Brian Mach became the first Minnesotan to officiate 1,000 NHL games during Friday’s Wild-Blackhawks game.
Mach has so many stories and memories, but here are his two favorite:
His very first faceoff during a 2000 preseason game in Denver. After an offside, Mach dropped the puck between Dallas’ Mike Modano and Colorado’s Joe Sakic. Modano inexplicably fell on top of the puck, Sakic inexplicably put his hand on top of Modano. Mach blew his whistle, and the two future Hall of Famers stood up, took their gloves off, shook Mach’s hand and said, “Congrats, we wish you the best of luck.
“It just floored me. A kid from Little Falls, Minnesota, and those two stars knew right then and there that was my first puck drop. I was just flabbergasted.”
Student of the drop
The second involves Modano, too. After 9/11, NHL officials spent much of the 2001 preseason traveling on team charters. Mach flew to a couple of games with the Stars.
During Mach’s first season as an NHL official, “Modano would always win my faceoffs, like religiously win them.”
On the team plane, Mach spotted Modano studying video and saw himself on the screen. “Modano goes to me, ‘You know how I win every faceoff from you?’ ” Mach said. “I said, ‘Yeah, how do you do it?’ He goes, ‘Watch your pointer finger on your right hand.’ I would just move it enough on the puck right before I dropped the puck that he knew it was going down.
“The next night, on the ice, my first faceoff with Modano, I had my finger glued to that puck. I dropped it, he lost it clean and he looked at me and goes, ‘Wow.’ I just giggled. He said, ‘I’m never telling you another thing again.’ ”