Last Friday, I got home from my day job, ordered a pizza, put on my jersey and sat down on the couch with a beer to watch Michigan Tech take on Ferris State in the second WCHA Final Five Semifinal game. When the program came on, the commentary crew announced that an official had been injured in the pregame skate, and that the game would be delayed by several minutes. They did not go into any detail as to the nature of the injury so I immediately assumed it was some minor injuries that just needed a quick patching up, but details emerged quickly as fans took to the internet in an overwhelming show of support for referee Oliver "Butch" Mousseaux.
During the warmup, Mousseaux slipped and hit his head on the ice. As is common among officials taking a pregame skate, Mousseaux was not wearing a helmet at the time. He was removed from the ice on a stretcher and transported to Mercy Health St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich, where he was reported to be in critical condition. At last report, doctors have placed him in a medically-induced coma and are waiting for the swelling in his brain to go down so that they can assess the damage. On Saturday, prior to the final game, his jersey was spotted hanging from the glass of the officials' box in tribute and officials took their pregame skate with helmets on.
One enterprising fan has set up a GoFundMe page to collect money for Mousseaux's family to help cover travel costs, medical bills and other expenses that are sure to come from this incident. If you would like to donate money, please click this link. At time of writing, the campaign has collected $4,680 from 67 donors in one day. Additionally, you can join this Facebook group where his family is posting updates on his condition.
While we at Tech Hockey Guide have all harassed officials from the stands at some point in our lives, we wish Mousseaux a speedy recovery from his injuries. We also hope that young hockey fans will learn from this incident that accidents happen in sports and that helmets are valuable safety devices even when not playing a contact game.