Masson will be sorely missed

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Dale Masson will be remembered as a fierce competitor who also knew when to have fun.

The former University of Alberta Golden Bears goaltender collapsed and died during the Kananaskis 100 Mile Relay Race on Saturday.

The 36-year-old lawyer was just metres from completing his 16 km leg of the race.

"Shock is the only reaction you can have," said former Golden Bears head coach Rob Daum, now in charge of the Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield.

"You never expect anything like this to happen. Words can't describe what you feel after hearing the news."

Masson spent five years with the Golden Bears, winning a national championship in his final season in 1999.

Prior to attending the U of A, the Edmonton native played five seasons in the Western Hockey League winning a Memorial Cup with the Kamloops Blazers in 1992.

"He was a great person, who had a tremendous sense of humour," said current Golden Bears head coach Eric Thurston, who, as an assistant, recruited Masson.

"He was a bright person who worked hard at his goaltending and his academics."

Thurston remembers Masson as a player teammates loved to tease. There was a particular incident where he was jokingly tormented about his sports jacket on a road trip to Brandon.

"It was one of those Herb Tarlek-type of jackets," Thurston said. "The guys were on him so bad about it, he finally ripped it off and threw it in the garbage can.

"The look on his face was priceless. But he was a guy that could take it and gave it as good as he got it."

Daum remembers a particular team Christmas party where teammates presented Masson with a special gift.

"He had posed nude for some artist and he didn't think any of the guys knew about it," Daum said. "But they were able to get a hold of the artist, got a copy of the portrait and gave it to him at the party.

"As soon as they walked up to him with it wrapped up, he knew what it was and was in shock."

Masson was a three-time CIS Academic All-Canadian and twice won the Adam Kryczka Memorial Trophy for the lowest goals against average in the Canada West regular season.

"He was a fun-loving type of person," said Daum. "He loved life and enjoyed every aspect of it."

An official cause of death has not been determined, although it's suspected Masson suffered a heart attack during the race.

His wife, Tanya, and two young sons, Wyatt (2) and Sam (two months) were in attendance.

It was an event Masson had competed in four times previously. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday at McInnis and Holloway Park Memorial Chapel in Calgary.

"When I first heard the news, I was in shock, I didn't believe it," Thurston said. "It was very upsetting in every way. He was such a great person and so young. I don't understand it, he was always in good shape. To play at the level that he did, you have to be a top-level athlete."


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