Often imitated, never duplicated, the WHL's Calgary Hitmen's annual Teddy Bear Toss is the best spectacle in junior hockey, and it's for a good cause. Fans bring stuffed animals to the game, and upon the Hitmen's first goal, they're hurled onto the ice in an orgiastic torrent of plush. The bears are then donated to local hospitals and charities.
Yesterday was the 18th installment of the toss, and fans didn't have to wait long. Ukrainian Pavlo Padakin tapped the puck in at 13:27 in the first, and down came the bears.
"I didn't think it was like this ... not emotional," said the Calgary Hitmen's first-year winger, smiling.
"I thought maybe a couple bears. Not so much. But when they started to fall down, I said, ‘Oh my god, what do I need to do?' I couldn't skate to the bench because all the ice was (covered) in bears."
The finally tally was 21,534 bears collected, pushing the total to more than 213,000 since 1999. Below, a video taken from the stands and run through some sort of weird filter to make it look like snow.