Sweet little teddy bears and body-slamming, head-bashing hockey players don’t seem like the most natural fit, but every year, the Calgary Hitmen junior hockey team gets pelted with bears in the name of charity.
For 19 years now, the adorably violent Petro-Canada Teddy Bear Toss has taken place during a Hitmen game after they score their first goal. Fans are told in advance to bring one or two bears to the game, and the player who scores the first goal initiates the onslaught of bears onto the ice.
For the last two years, the lucky scorer has been forward Pavel Padakin.
Apparently this event is a pretty big deal.
Hitmen GM Mike Moore said it was quite a spectacle to watch the fur fly from the rafters and said even after almost two decades, it never gets old.
“Somebody told me it went for 11 minutes before they stopped coming down,” Moore said. “It’s just amazing what this community does.
“People circle this date on the calendar and throw the bears to give back to the community.”
This year’s crowd of 17,199 fans yielded 25,921 bears (compared to last year’s 21,453) which are being distributed to local charities including the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, the YWCA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Calgary Food Bank.
What a fun, sweet and oddly fitting tradition.