Calgary Teddy Bear Toss Turns 22

Aside from perhaps the occasional appearance of the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are few sporting events in the city of Calgary that compare to the Calgary Hitmen’s annual Teddy Bear Toss in terms of atmosphere and crowd anticipation. The 22nd edition of the Teddy Bear Toss saw the Hitmen battle the Lethbridge Hurricanes, a provincial and Central Division rival, before a near-capacity crowd of 17,601 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Teddy Bear Goal

After a great performance by Lethbridge goaltender Stuart Skinner – who flashed his glove hand on at least five strong Hitmen scoring chances – Hitmen defender Micheal Zipp scored on a point shot (that deflected off a Hurricanes defender past Skinner) with just 12.6 seconds remaining in the first period. It was the 13th shot faced by Skinner in the period and unleashed an estimated 25,000 stuffed animals onto the Saddledome ice.

A Brief History of Flying Bears

Since the first event in 1995-96, the Teddy Bear Toss has seen roughly 295,000 fans throw stuffed animals onto the ice for donation to local hospitals and other children’s charities in the Southern Alberta area, and is generally regarded as the largest event of its kind in the world.

The 2016 Teddy Bear Toss saw the total amount of teddy bears (and other critters) donated cross the 300,000 mark. Over the past five Teddy Bear games, the bear-to-fan ratio has held steady at roughly a bear-and-a-half per fan. (The animals thrown from the press box by scouts, media and Western Hockey League officials somewhat inflates this ratio, though.)

The Hitmen have never been shut out in the Teddy Bear Toss. The 2016 goal was neither the earliest or latest goal in the event’s history; the earliest goal was 1:05 into the first period in 2002, the latest was 18:21 into the second period in 2011.