EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oil Kings are celebrating a big win, both on and off of the ice.
The team held its annual Teddy Bear Toss Saturday night, where they not only won the game 2-1 against the Swift Current Broncos, but they also collected a record amount of stuffed animals for Santas Anonymous.
Tyler Robertson scored the first goal of the game, three minutes and 11 seconds into the first period on a power play to send 12,566 teddy bears flying onto the ice. The game was delayed for 17 minutes while volunteers cleared the fur flurry.
“The goal happened so quick,” said Kevin Radomski, director of business operations with the Oil Kings.
This is the ninth annual event for the Oil Kings, which Radomski called a “staple” for the organization. The event started with less than 5,000 fans, and 1,000 stuffed animals, now it’s grown exponentially.
“We are always blown away by the fans and their ability to give generously,” Radomski said.
The bears and other stuffed characters were taken off the ice, packed into a truck and sent over to the Santas Anonymous Santas Depot. There, they will be put into Christmas hampers to be delivered next week.
“It is a huge night for our organization and in the end, for the children that we serve,” Executive Director of Santas Anonymous, Lana Nordlund told Global News. “You think about a stuffed animal from your childhood and it just brings comfort and it brings warmth to your heart.”
Norlund said even just a small donation can have a big impact on families who are struggling during the holidays.
“One small act of kindness like that can go a long way.”
Fans were also able to purchase a special bear named “Brickley” from The Brick locations throughout the city before the game. The bears went to Santas Anonymous, while all of the funds raised from the sale of the toys went to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Attendance also smashed previous records. There were 15,022 people in attendance.