Referee Aaron Coffin dies while officiating game

Long-time official remembered for love of family, passion for hockey

Jim Day
Published on April 5, 2014

Guardian graphic of the late Aaron Coffin superimposed on a referee jersey.

©Nigel Armstrong - The Guardian

Aaron Coffin embraced hockey.

For years, he played the sport, capturing along the way the Island Senior Hockey championship in 1987 with his Morell squad.

Coffin also spent time behind the bench as a coach.

And he went on to officiate many, many hockey games.

“Hockey was a major passion of his all of his life,’’ says Donna MacLean, who is grieving the sudden loss of her son.

Coffin died Wednesday shortly after skating off the rink complaining of trouble breathing while working as a linesman during an Island Junior Hockey League playoff game in Montague.

He was only one year old when his father, Brenton Coffin, died of a heart attack while playing in a hockey game with the Mount Stewart Seagulls.

Aaron’s death is also believed to be heart related.

“They were doing what they loved,’’ says MacLean.

Still, family and friends are in shock.

The resident of Roseneath was only 39. And, as his mother points out, he had a great deal to live for.

“He just loved life,’’ she says. “He had so many plans.’’

Coffin, who had taught for a short stint, was working with the Vestas wind turbines in Elmira.

He couldn’t wait to get on the ice, though.

Troy Howatt, referee-in-chief of Hockey P.E.I., says Coffin was a newly minted level 4 official with an extreme passion for the game.

“It was something he thoroughly enjoyed,’’ says Howatt.

He says fellow officials were shocked and saddened by Coffin’s sudden death.

“Really unsettling for the crew that was there working the game,’’ he says.

“We’re a small group.’’

While Coffin loved stepping onto the ice, he put his heart and soul into being a caring father and loving husband, notes MacLean.

“He was just a totally hands on father - loved all of his three kids immensely,’’ she says.

“He just embraced life and just full of enthusiasm with whatever he did.’’

Coffin leaves behind his wife Angela Coffin and their two boys Brent and Theo. He is also survived by his daughter Alicia Bruce and her mother Rachel Reis.

Clifford Affleck describes his late nephew as a man who was a gentleman all the way and easy to get along with.

“He was a great fellow,’’ says Affleck.

“He will be greatly missed by his family.’’

Visiting hours are Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Ferguson Logan Montague Funeral Home.

A celebration of life service will be held in the Funeral Home Chapel on Monday at 3 p.m.

Donations to Brent and Theo’s education fund would be greatly appreciated by the family.

Donations can also be made during game two of the IJHL final, which was cancelled out of respect towards Coffin. The game will be played in Coffin’s memory Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre in Montague.