Burton 40: Bron Mach
When Vancouver Roller Hockey were formed, it was completely dependent on BUSH expatriates. The early sessions was fragile; a loss of one player meant the cancellation of a session. When a session was played, it was usually half-court and never more than two or three games long. If the western league was to survive for very long, it needed fresh Lower Mainland blood. The need was especially dire in goal. To put it in perpective, the leading goaltender of VRH's first year was a vacationing Laird Bilinski in for two weeks from BUSH. At its weakest point, the league was saved with the arrival of a goaltender that would entrench himself as the most storied goaltender in the history of the western circuit, and as Burton Hockey's top exclusive goaltender.
A military veteran and first-generation Canadian of Czech parentage, Bron Mach debuted in the final session of 2005 on an invite from friend and former co-worker Stefan Klopp. Throwing himself to the lions, he stopped 69 shots in one half-court game for .885 (still one of the greatest debuts ever and enough to give him 2005's Rookie of the Year award) and proved up to the challenge of goaltending. From then on, he was hooked. Bron went down in history as the first non-Arrow Laker regular of Burton Hockey. He was immediately the most dominant force in the Ambleside net, and has never relinquished the title.
Bron's always been quite good (maybe a little erratic from session to session; do you know any other goalie with a .695 and a .905 in the same year?), but he stepped it up in 2007, becoming the first VRH goalie to make an all-star team. He then proceeded to set Burton Hockey on fire in 2008 with a league-leading .831, becoming the only full-time goalie to win Most Outstanding Player. His 2009 season ranged from spotty to astounding, but he set a standard for goaltending endurance that won't be matched for many a year, backstopping an incredible 138 games and destroying the Burton Hockey record for saves in a year with 1,876. Throw in nine shutouts, and it's no wonder Bron remains the go-to goalie in West Vancouver. To top it off, he found his first consistent VRH goaltending rival in Dominik Voser; appearances against Dom always lead the Razor to raise his game to another level.
He is VRH's all-time leader in every single goaltending category except saves-per-game (he's second). He's made more than twice as many saves and goaltended almost as many games as the next two closest VRH netminders combined. He has Hasek-like reflexes and a will to battle. Best of all, he is amazingly down-to-earth and genial. The most enduring non-Arrow Laker in Burton Hockey history and the man who opened the floodgates for dozens of Lower Mainlanders to join the beautiful game, Bron Mach is a true goaltending legend and one of the Burton 40.
Awards: Goaltending Champion - 2008; Most Outstanding Player - 2008 (tie); Most Outstanding Goaltender - 2008; Rookie of the Year - 2005; 1st All-Star: 2008g; 2nd All-Star: 2007g.
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Ben de Wit