Randy Rowe felt it was so important to wear the specially designed Ziggy’s Fundraiser sweater that he juggled his schedule and planned a 91⁄2-hour drive from Belleville, Ontario, to Richland Township.
The former Johnstown Chiefs captain and fan favorite wanted to be there for Dave “Ziggy” Zeigler, who is battling brain cancer.
“Ziggy is such a great guy. He was great to me personally. He did everything to help out the team,” said Rowe, who recently completed his ninth professional season by splitting time in the AHL with Lake Erie and the ECHL with Charlotte. “Ziggy would sometimes get me equipment for a local junior hockey team from where I’m from (in Belleville). Ziggy would go through all the hard work to make sure they got the right equipment and right stuff. Everyone is so appreciative of him, so it’s the least I could do to help out his family.”
Rowe will be among a group of former Johnstown Chiefs and Johnstown Jets who will play an alumni game on Saturday night at Planet Ice. Donations to the game and a silent auction will go to Zeigler and his family to pay mounting medical bills. The silent auction has attracted donations from NHL teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as AHL squads in Hershey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Milwaukee. The former ECHL Chiefs and Wheeling Nailers have provided donations and the ECHL office has contributed.
Doors open at 6 p.m., with the game to follow about an hour to 90 minutes later.
Event organizers unveiled the commemorative black jerseys on Wednesday. The uniform, produced on short notice by American Eagle Screen Print and Embroidery of Johnstown and donated by Reebok, has quite a bit of Zeigler’s touch. Ziggy designed several logos in his role as former pro shop manager at Cambria County War Memorial Arena and in his own shop located across the street from the arena. Zeigler has been involved in Johnstown pro hockey since the 1970s. Most recently, he assisted the Chiefs and, for the past two-plus seasons, he was an assistant to Johnstown native Dana Heinze, the Penguins’ head equipment manager.
“Ziggy really had a hand in almost all of the Chiefs’ logos,” Heinze said. “Ziggy designed the very first Johnstown Chiefs logo. The first one had the dancing Native American with the ‘J’ and the word markings that said Johnstown and Chiefs. Then, a few years later, they removed the word markings and just had the logo. They wanted to have the logo like most of the NHL teams had. In the late 1990s he came up with two different concepts of a logo that had the charging mascot. Ziggy is an artist. It’s only fitting that he helped design that logo in 1988 when the team was formed. It shows Ziggy’s passion for Johnstown hockey and how much he is a part of the Chiefs.
“He was never an employee of the team but he was always a part of the team,” Heinze added.
Through the years, Ziggy assisted numerous hockey players from the youth level through high school, college and the pro game. He sponsored many youth teams over the years and always was known to offer assistance to youngsters and adults in need of hockey equipment.
Now, the hockey community is backing Zeigler, who was diagnosed with cancer in April.
“We are thankful for the opportunity to share American Eagle’s support to the fund-raiser with the public,” said Craig Hollern, owner of American Eagle. “Ziggy has been a part of Johnstown’s hockey community for as long as I can remember. His efforts have helped keep the area youth as well as the Chiefs to be an important part of Johnstown’s sports.”
Former Chiefs all-star Jean Desrochers, who is one of the event’s organizers, appreciated Hollern’s and his staff’s ability to produce the uniforms on short notice. The black sweater has the Chiefs’ original logo on the crest, with a smaller Penguins logo near the right shoulder. The most recent Chiefs logo is on the right sleeve, and a late-1990s era logo that was used briefly is on the left sleeve.
“The logo in the middle of the jersey is a tribute to Ziggy because he created it and that’s why we’re going to use this logo,” Desrochers said. “He also created the one logo that is on the sleeve. It will be nice to wear a Chiefs jersey one last time now that the team is leaving for Greenville (S.C.).”