College ice hockey: WCHA to retire No. 12 officials' jersey
EDINA, Minn. – In memoriam of the late Oliver “Butch” Mousseau, the men’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will retire his officials’ jersey number 12, while on-ice officials will wear a specially-designed “12” sticker on their helmets throughout the 2016-17 season.
Mousseau, a beloved longtime league official, tragically passed away March 25 after suffering critical head injuries stemming from a fall to the ice during warm-ups prior to the second WCHA Final Five semifinal game on Friday, March 18 at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. Mousseau was 48.
“Butch Mousseau will forever be in our hearts and minds,” said WCHA Supervisor of Officials Greg Shepherd. “Nobody wore the officials’ jersey with more pride and love for the game than Butch. It is only fitting that the number 12 be forever retired in his honor.”
While not mandatory, some WCHA schools will be memorializing Mousseau by placing the number 12 in the referees’ circle on their home ice.
“The WCHA is, and always will be, a better league because of Butch’s involvement,” commented WCHA President and Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson. “His legacy is one of the utmost professionalism, a truly infectious positivity and an ever-present smile that we would all do well to replicate. It is our hope that these small gestures are a reminder to us all of how lucky we are to have had Butch in our lives.”
Mousseau was a full-time WCHA referee for 16 seasons, beginning with the 2003-04 campaign; and, a part-time official in the NCHC since the league’s inception in 2013-14. 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 (AHL) and now-defunct Central Hockey League (CHL). As the first Native American to work a game at the top level of the sport, Mousseau’s National Hockey League (NHL) officials’ sweater and skates are in the league’s Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada.
The WCHA opens its 2016-17 season this weekend, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, as Ferris State hosts Alabama Huntsville in the league opener, Michigan Tech visits Minnesota Duluth in nonconference action and six teams host exhibition contests (Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, Bowling Green, Lake Superior State, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan).