December 03, 2011
The winter holiday season is here. Hence, it's also time for that annual tradition amongst minor league hockey teams: The Teddy Bear Toss.
In case you're unaware of this annual rite, fans bring stuffed animals to the game and throw them on the ice when the home team scores its first goal. (Delay of game penalties have no home here.) The toys are collected and donated to local charity.
Seriously, seeing the teddy bears fly when the goal is scored is one of the best unique sights in hockey.
The ECHL Bakersfield Condors have been doing the Teddy Bear Toss for 13 years, and were one of the first teams to hold their toss in 2011. Thousands of stuffed animals were donated to the United Way of Kern County after they hit the ice on Nov. 26.
Things can get a little tense at these Teddy Bear Tosses when the home team doesn't scored. Luckily Scott Freeman saved the day, via the Californian:
Trailing 3-0, with time running down and the Ontario Reign on a power play, Freeman stole the puck in the neutral zone, raced in alone and beat Reign goaltender Darcy Kuemper(notes) with 7 minutes and 47 seconds remaining to a standing ovation and a torrent of stuffed animals.
His goal ignited the Condors, who scored again two minutes later to cut the lead to 3-2, but the Reign added another goal with 2 minutes left to seal a 4-2 victory. A near-capacity crowd of 8,776 packed Rabobank Arena on Saturday night wanting mainly one thing -- a Bakersfield goal.