The Calgary Hitmen showed once again why their Teddy Bear Toss event is “world famous.” Captain Michael Zipp’s goal led to nearly 24,000 stuffed toys being donated to local organizations.
There’s something hilarious about watching fans throw thousands of stuffed toys from the stands and onto the ice, but the annual Teddy Bear Toss is no joke to the Calgary Hitmen.
The Hitmen’s tradition of partaking in the Teddy Bear Toss dates back more than two decades with this season’s toss being the 22nd year running the team has held the event, and this year the honor of scoring the goal that set off the flood of stuffed toys flying, flipping and flailing onto the ice went to Hitmen captain Michael Zipp.
With little more than a dozen seconds remaining in the first frame, Zipp blasted a shot from the point that found its way through Lethbridge Hurricanes netminder Stuart Skinner. Zipp barely had time to raise his arms before the Teddy Bear Toss had taken over the arena:
The Hitmen’s video almost doesn’t do the sheer volume of donations justice. All told, nearly 24,000 stuffed animals hit the ice and were scooped up and packaged by the players, staff and ice crew before being hauled off the ice. The toys will be distributed to 60 local groups, including the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie, Alberta Children’s Hospital and Calgary Food Bank, according to the Hitmen.
The delay in the action was nearly 40 minutes as the ice was cleared, making it that much better that Zipp’s goal came so close to the end of the first frame.
If you think 24,000 is a lot of teddies, though, it’s worth noting that this year’s haul wasn’t even the biggest in Hitmen history. That came during the 2015 Teddy Bear Toss game, when Jordy Stallard’s goal was followed by nearly 29,000 (!!!) bears being tossed onto the ice.
Unfortunately for Calgary, the Zipp’s goal and the Teddy Bear Toss would end up being the real highlight of the outing as the Hurricanes went on to a 4-2 victory. The team had the right attitude post-game, though.
“I think some people forget what the Teddy Bear Toss is for, and that’s the children and the people in need,” Zipp said after the outing. “That’s the special part for me.”
And Hitmen GM Mike Moore said that, despite the loss, the event always helps put the games into perspective.
“Our community gets behind this like no other in the world,” Moore said. “That’s why it is world famous and why we’re so darn proud of it.”
In the 22 years the team has been participating in the toss, 323,343 toys have been donated by fans and partners of the team.
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