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Hockey referee dies after suffering head injury while officiating game

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--An NCAA hockey referee of Erie, Colorado, formerly of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, died Friday after suffering a head injury a week earlier while officiating a hockey game in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-An NCAA hockey referee of Erie, Colorado, formerly of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, died Friday after suffering a head injury a week earlier while officiating a hockey game in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

According to The Denver Post, Oliver "Butch" Mousseau, 48, fell to the ice and hit his head March 18 during warmups for a Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff game between Ferris State and Michigan Tech. He was skating with his hands in his pockets at the time of the fall, unable to break the fall, and was not wearing a helmet.

Mousseau was taken to Mercy Health St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids and was bleeding out of his ears. He was put in a drug-induced coma because of brain swelling. According to Mousseau's friend, Tim Swiader, a former WCHA linesman living in Denver, Mousseau suffered a brain hemorrhage Friday.

"We are saddened beyond belief by the tragic passing of Oliver 'Butch' Mousseau," WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson said in a news release. "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."

To honor Mousseau, NHL officials wore his initials on the back of their helmets during NHL hockey games over the weekend.

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Mosseau, who Yahoo Sports reports grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, was the first, and only, American Indian official in the league, and his official's sweater and skates are in the league's Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada.

Mousseau was a full-time WCHA referee for 16 seasons, beginning with the 2003-04 campaign, and was a part-time official in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference since the league's inception in 2013-2014, according to the WCHA website. He was also a USA Hockey official since 1998, worked as a referee in the East Coast Hockey League, beginning with the 1999-2000 season, and also had assignments in the American Hockey League and now-defunct Central Hockey League.

"It is fitting that one of the last things Butch said to me was, 'I'll do a great job for you today,' and said it with a smile," WCHA Supervisor of Officials Greg Shepherd said in a news release. "That was Butch in a nutshell-the consummate professional on the ice and a wonderful, positive human being. ... Butch was universally respected for his work on the ice and beloved for his kind and generous spirit to all, along with his love for the great sport of hockey at all levels. He was truly a very special person, and I will miss him dearly."

Mousseau is survived by his wife, Macaire, their three children, Sam (S.J.), Abbie and Olivia; his parents and four siblings.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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