Hockey Fans Throw Teddy Bears at Players

24 December, 2015

It is exciting enough to score a goal in a hockey game.

But it is another thing to trigger a cascade of 28,000 teddy bears from the stands onto the ice.

That is what happened when Jordy Stallard scored a goal for the Calgary Hitmen hockey team in early December. When the puck entered the net, all those teddy bears flew from the stands onto the rink.

Stallard's goal came on Teddy Bear Toss night against the Swift Current Broncos.

The toss is a tradition for Canadian minor league hockey teams like the Hitmen. All the bears are collected and donated to charity.

Stallard is an 18-year-old player who can be drafted by an NHL team in 2016.

"Yeah, it felt incredible to get it. The fans were absolutely outstanding out there. And to top it off, it's for a great cause, so it felt good."

The cascade of bears caused a 37-minute delay as players celebrated and rink attendants gathered up the toys.

There were almost 20,000 fans at the game, and they threw 28,815 bears, which broke the record from 2007.

Mark French is the Hitmen coach.

"I mean, it's funny. You hear the older guys trying to explain it to the first-year players. What to expect. And it's always understated, because you know the magnitude is hard to explain. So, I think the event has taken a life upon itself. It's my second. And it's certainly something we highlight on the calendar."

The first Teddy Bear Toss came in 1995 and almost 300,000 bears have been collected by the Calgary team alone.

Some of the players took bears to a local children's hospital after they returned from a road trip.

I'm Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English based on reporting from the Calgary Herald. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Does your favorite sports team have a fun holiday tradition? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

cascade – v. to flow or hang down in large amounts

understated – v. to say that (something) is smaller, less important, etc., than it really is

magnitude – n. the size, extent, or importance of something

drafted – v. to choose (someone) to play on a professional sports team