Participants could feel the anticipation at the sold-out Lethbridge Hurricanes game on Friday night, and almost everyone had a teddy bear in tow.
In the second period, 3,764 bears rained down onto the ice, thanks to a goal from Miguel Marques.
“I didn’t even realize it went in,” explained Marques, “I thought Sharpy tapped it in off a rebound … This was pretty special.”
The celebration quickly ensued and cleared the Hurricanes bench as the players helped gather up the teddys and plush toys.
Now that the bears have been tossed, there’s more to be done. A team of volunteers, including police, EMS and sheriffs picked up the bears, packed them into trucks and counted them all up in two hours. The bears were donated to 20 different organizations around the city.
Rookie Will Sharpe describes the feeling of seeing the bears fly for the first time.
“It’s a great feeling, watching those teddy bears come over. It’s a great cause and it feels good to help the community,” he told Global News. “I was even beginning to wonder when they were going to stop pouring over the glass. It was pretty cool.”
According to Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, it’s the community support that makes it so meaningful.
“It’s the fun part of junior hockey for sure. All the community initiatives that you get a chance to be involved with is very rewarding,” he said. “I know our guys can’t wait to give out the bears to those kids.”
Marques himself said the experience feels as though a dream come true.
“Growing up as a kid watching it, it’s a dream come true playing in this league and it’s super special to score this goal tonight, but I couldn’t do it without my linemates so got to give a lot of credit to them too,” he said.
This year the Hurricanes fell short of their goal of 6,000 bears, but those interested in donating to the can contact Kathy Hong at the Lethbridge Hurricanes office.