When one thinks of hockey, images of giant players fighting over a puck come to mind. But teddy bears? Teddy bear tosses are an annual tradition that have become a staple of minor league and junior league hockey. With the holidays approaching, the events are kicking into high gear.
What is a teddy bear toss, you ask? Teams host teddy bear toss nights where fans bring stuffed animals to the game. When the home team scores its first goal of the night, it’s time for the teddy bears to be thrown on the ice. All of the stuffed animals are then donated to local charities. The numbers of stuffed animals continue to grow, with some of the largest games seeing over 25,000 bears hit the ice.
This year has been no different as teams have seen tons of American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL fans participating in this annual holiday tradition. Here’s a quick rundown on which teams have already hosted their teddy bear tosses this season, and which teams are coming up next.
The Quad City Mallards (ECHL) and the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) were two of the first teams to host teddy bear tosses this season, with both events taking place on November 24. The Wheeling Nailers (ECHL), Rapid City Rush (ECHL), and Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) hosted events on November 25. The Charlotte Checkers (AHL) hosted an event on November 26.
The Bakersfield Condors (AHL) held a successful teddy bear toss on November 27, and set a new team record collecting 10,549 stuffed animals which were donated to the United Way of Kern County.
Between the AHL and the ECHL, ten teams held teddy bear tosses on December 2 including the Rockford IceHogs (AHL), the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL), the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL), the Adirondack Thunder (ECHL), the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), the Toledo Walleye (ECHL), the Kansas City Mavericks (ECHL), the Allen Americans (ECHL), the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), and the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). The Crunch, Komets, and Walleye all had strong nights collecting 3,659 animals, 2,000 animals, and 3,500 animals respectively going to organizations like The Salvation Army, police and fire departments, and children’s services.
Four teams had events on December 3 including the Hershey Bears (AHL), the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL), the San Antonio Rampage (AHL), and the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL). The Bears came out as the winners on the night with 25,017 stuffed animals making their way to the ice, according to the Carlisle Sentinel. Some of the organizations that benefitted from those teddy bear tosses included the Family Service Association and Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA), local foster homes, and police departments.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) collected almost 5,000 stuffed animals on their teddy bear toss night on December 4th. Those stuffed animals were donated to the Valley Youth House.
Three teams hosted teddy bear tosses on December 8 including the Cleveland Monsters (AHL), the Binghamton Devils (AHL), and the Laval Rocket (AHL), who held its first teddy bear toss ever. Eight teams hosted teddy bear tosses on December 9, including the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL), the Manchester Monarchs (ECHL), the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL), the Florida Everblades (ECHL), the Manitoba Moose (AHL), and the Indy Fuel (ECHL). The Eagles collected over 8,000 stuffed animals and the Thunderbirds fans donated hundreds, with the stuffed animals going to Square One, CHD, the Ronald McDonald House of Springfield, and the Boys and Girls Club Family Center in Springfield. It was the second year for Springfield’s teddy bear toss. The Moose collected 2,137 stuffed animals and the Indy Fuel had thousands of animals thrown on the ice as well, as evidenced by the plethora of social media posts. On December 10, the Brampton Beast (ECHL) hosted their teddy bear toss.
Several other teams have teddy bear tosses coming up and are expected to gather thousands of stuffed animals to be distributed to their local communities. The Greeneville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL) and the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL) are hosting teddy bear tosses on December 15. Five teams are hosting teddy bear tosses on December 16 including the Toronto Marlies (AHL), Reading Royals (ECHL), Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), Jacksonville Icemen (ECHL), and the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). The San Diego Gulls (AHL) will host a teddy bear toss on December 17. The San Jose Barracuda (AHL) will host a teddy bear toss on December 22. The Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL) will host their teddy bear toss on December 23. On December 27th, the Texas Stars (AHL) will host its event. Two teams will have events in January including the Stockton Heat (AHL) on January 20th and the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) on January 27th.
With the tradition of teddy bear tosses going strong, this fan-favorite promotion is here to stay with teams continuing to celebrate the holidays by giving back to their communities.
Image courtesy Bakersfield Condors.
This article originally appeared in the weekly Arena Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the free weekly newsletter