College hockey referee Oliver "Butch" Mousseau passed away Friday, one week after the official slipped during pregame warmups before a Western College Hockey Association playoff game between Ferris State and Minnesota State in Grand Rapids, Mich. Mousseau died at age 48.
Mousseau is a native of Erie, Colo.
Mousseau's death was confirmed Friday by the WCHA while first round matchups in the NCAA Tournament got underway Friday. In addition to officiating at the college level, Mousseau also has refereed at various levels of minor league hockey.
Mousseau was reportedly not wearing a helmet during warmups. Eyewitnesses said that Mousseau caught an edge on his skate and fell on his head, causing him to bleed onto the ice. He was taken to a hospital and was in a coma.
Most leagues do not require referees to wear helmets during warmups. Helmets are required for on-ice officials at the collegiate and professional levels during games.
"We are saddened beyond belief by the tragic passing of Oliver 'Butch' Mousseau," said WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson. "Words cannot express the depth of sorrow we feel, or the sympathy the WCHA, our member institutions and fellow officials extend to Butch's wife, Macaire, their children, Sam (SJ), Abbie and Olivia, and the rest of the Mousseau family. At the end of the day, hockey is just a game. It is a special game because of the people involved, and Butch was one of the all-time greats who left an indelibly positive impact upon everyone whom he came in contact with. The WCHA is, and always will be, a better league because of Butch's involvement."
A Go Fund Me account was setup to raise money for his family. The account had raised more than $25,000 as of Friday evening.
His death sent shock waves through the hockey community.
We join the hockey community in mourning the loss of @WCHA_MHockey and @TheNCHC referee and former #AHL official Butch Mousseau #RIPButch
— AHL (@TheAHL) March 25, 2016
DU's Grant Arnold, a CO native, on the passing of Butch Mousseau: "He's greatly missed and great for the game."
— Nate Wells (@gopherstate) March 25, 2016
Rest In Peace, Butch. https://t.co/UYT5gBg8kc
— Amy D (@AmyD3315) March 25, 2016