One of the WCHA referees assigned to the Gophers at Bemidji State series this past weekend made a bad, game-changing call in the first game. So he apologized to Nick Bjugstad, the Gophers freshman center that he sent to the penalty box.
How unusual is such a gesture?
"It doesn't happen very often," said Greg Shepherd, the WCHA supervisor of officals on Monday. Then he waited a second and delivered the punch line. "Officials don't make mistakes."
Shepherd laughed at his own joke, then turned serious quickly.
The referee who called Bjugstad for hooking -- with 40 seconds left in the third period -- was Butch Mousseaux. This is his second year a referee. Before that he was a linesmen. He is from Colorado.
With Bjugstad in the penalty box, the Beavers tied the score 3-3 with 19 seconds left. BSU pulled their goalie and had six attackers against four. The game ended in a tie when it seemed a win was within the Gophers' grasp.
Shepherd and Mousseaux talked on the phone about the call. A replay of the "hook" showed Bjugstad lifting his stick and hooking the stick of a Bemidji State player ahead of him. The BSU player was trying to break out with the puck.
The stick of the Beavers' player goes flying through the air, Mosseaux blows his whistle. But it's not a penalty unless Bjugstad hooks part of the opponent's body.
"If we make a mistake, we own up to it," Shepherd said. "In the ref's mind, he did, and that's why [he apologized]. He felt real bad.
"[Referees] watch tapes after the game and in his mind, he thought he did not make a very good call. It just shows we are human. We do make mistakes and we move on."
Shepherd said Mousseaux made the decision on his own to talk to Bjugstad the next day.
Shepherd said the WCHA won't make a public comment on the late hooking call. He inferred that would open the wrong door. That somebody would want an apology for something after every game.