Friends, sports world remember life of Arizona hockey pioneer Jim Rogers

A hockey pioneer in the Valley is being remembered after his passing on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Jim Rogers, 56, owned AZ Ice Rinks in the Arcadia area of Phoenix, Gilbert, and Peoria, and his impact in the community goes beyond the ice.

Some would say Rogers brought ice to the Valley of the Sun. General manager Jim Curley is still learning new stories about his old friend.

"Jim got involved in hockey back when he was 15 years old, actually at this rink when it was Tower Plaza, and used to sleep under the bleachers at night," said Curley.

Rogers eventually became owner, and has coached thousands of players through the decades.

"He's coached everybody, from kids you've never heard of to -- he coached Auston Matthews," said Curley, referring to the NHL player.  When Auston Matthews was ten years old and nobody else in town wanted him to skate, Jim brought him in and put him on a team, and now, he's playing in the NHL."

On Tuesday afternoon, Curley says Rogers was found dead in his office. The family says Rogers died of lung complications. Now it's up his loved ones to carry on his legacy. It was Rogers' goal to give young hockey lovers an opportunity to play at an affordable price.

"Our goal is that that dream continues to be fulfilled every single day," said Curley.

Curley says AZ Ice has been a longtime partner with the Arizona Coyotes. The organization provided stickers that Rogers' players will wear in his memory, with Rogers son coaching the team, just like his dad.

"This is the first tournament of the season that they're gonna be without him," said Curley.

Officials with the Arizona Coyotes have released a statement on Rogers' death, which reads:

"We are saddened by the sudden passing of Arizona hockey pioneer, Jim Rogers. We are extremely thankful for his lifetime of dedication to growing the game of hockey in our state. Our hearts go out to his family, his rinks, and his players. We promise to carry on his legacy and to continue to #growthegameaz."

Silent Auction for Jim Roger's Scholarship Fund