TOWNSEND — There are many kinds of hockey fans. There are the rowdy ones and the quiet ones.
Some even have a wet nose.
Such is the case for North Middlesex hockey’s unofficial mascot, Ziggy, the two-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer.
Though not a service dog, Ziggy does serve the North Middlesex community with his wagging tail of approval.
The 70-pound purebreed sits in the stands with his owner, Carla Walter, the mother of North Middlesex junior forward Brian Walter.
Ziggy waltzes through the doors of the Wallace Civic Center at Fitchburg State University, the home ice of the Patriots’ hockey team.
Fans from opposing teams have become friends of the happy-go-lucky North Middlesex mascot, who greets everyone with a swish of his stumpy tail and a wide-eyed grin.
It all started this season when the Patriots played at Wachusett.
Brian’s mother decided that Ziggy was harmless, so instead of keeping him in his crate, she decided to bring him along to the hockey games.
With 10-minute intermissions, Ziggy takes his stroll around the parking lot of the arena — and heads back inside the rink. Unfortunately for the Ashby pooch, the concession stand at Wallace Civic Center does not carry Milkbones
The dog takes his spot in the bleachers behind the North Middlesex bench beside Carla and her fiancé Sean Hitzenbuhler.
The Walters reside in Ashby, but the purebred pointer migrated all the way from Yonkers, New York. He isn’t the only German Shorthaired Pointer from Yonkers; it turns out two more reside in Townsend from the same breeder, after folks saw how nice of a dog Ziggy was.
“Ziggy and my mom just walked in and no one said anything,” Brian Walter laughed. “The first time my mom told me that she was going to bring him to the game, I thought he would just get kicked out. It never happened. So, she just started to bring him to each game.”
North Middlesex only lost one game during the regular season, and that was a 4-0 decision at the hands of Shrewsbury. The Patriots are 15-1-1 with Ziggy in attendance. He was only turned away at one rink this season.
“The boys didn’t see Ziggy before the game against Shrewsbury,” Carla said. “They asked ‘was he there?’ I told them not to start blaming the dog for the loss. But everyone loves him. He is such a docile and sweet dog.”
Carla stops by after school to drop off her son’s practice gear, and students inside the classroom near the snack shack at the football stadium all yell Ziggy’s name.
All of the players surround the Walters’ vehicle and give him high-fives before practice.
Carla pulled up to practice and hollered over to head coach Mike McCarthy because she wanted to show him Ziggy’s jacket.
“Mike told me that I should get a patch sewn on it,” Carla said. “I asked him where I could get one of those?’ — Mike reached in his pocket and pulled out a patch with the NM hockey logo on it.”
Carla brought Ziggy’s jacket to Teamworks across the street from the Wallace Civic Center to have it embroidered.
Ziggy is just one of the guys — if they made doggy ice skates, he probably would have a pair.
“My mom told me he follows the puck during the games,” Brian said. “I wouldn’t know if that’s true or not because I am down on the ice playing.”
Ziggy has been to all 22 of the Patriots games this season — including the Division 3 state semifinal against Agawam at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
“He’s been to every game so far. Why not the state semifinal?” Brian said.
Ziggy calmly walked through the doors of the MassMutual Center and roamed the concourse sporting his orange collar and North Middlesex jacket.
“At the beginning of the season, coach McCarthy yelled at me at the rink in Winchendon,” Carla said. “He wasn’t mad cause I brought Ziggy; he was mad that I didn’t bring him over to say hello. Ziggy is the unofficial team mascot.”
Even though his team fell 5-2 in the state semfinals to Agawam, there is no doubt Ziggy will be back next year.
Just like the Patriots.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout: @EdNiser.