Bruce Olson, who directed Roseau's boys to a state hockey title and later coached at rival Warroad High School, died early Tuesday from cancer.
"He lost the game to cancer, the hardest game of his life!" read the latest CaringBridge web entry, this one titled "Final Whistle."
Olson was 55 years old and died in Rochester, Minn., where he had been receiving care for the past two weeks, since a biopsy of his liver revealed his quick-spreading cancer.
Olson coached Roseau from 1991-99 and 2000-02, leading the Rams to the Class AA state title in 1999.
In 2002, he was named head coach of the Bemidji State women's hockey team. He left that job in December of the 2005-06 season, with an overall record of 27-80-13.
From there, he shared the reins as a co-head coach for the Warriors of Warroad, the Roseau Rams' fiercest rivals. Most recently, he was an assistant coach for Warroad.
"RIP Bruce you will be missed greatly," read a Tweet overnight from Brock Nelson, who played for Olson at Warroad before starring at North Dakota and is now under contract with the New York Islanders.
Olson understood well the passion -- and pressure -- that his boys felt lacing up the skates for either cross-county rival.
"There's the pride and the tradition and the standards that these kids have to stand up to. That's really important," he said in a 2007 interview with the Star Tribune while in St. Paul for the Class 1A State Tournament.
"You've got people all over, like waitresses in restaurants, asking, 'What's wrong with you guys? Why aren't you playing better?' They've got that added pressure. The kids all hear that, and nothing else is acceptable."
Olson graduated in 1979 from Minnesota-Duluth, where he played 137 games at left wing for the Bulldogs, scoring 35 goals and recording 58 assists.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482