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Photo Credit: courtesy Calgary Hitmen

Hitmen prepare for 25th Teddy Bear Toss

Sunday afternoon is the annual Calgary Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss game. Not only is it one of the most fun, interactive charity events in Calgary every year, but it’s become one of the landmark events on the city’s sporting calendar.

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s toss!

What is it?

It’s the 25th Teddy Bear Toss. Held annually since 1995, fans throw stuffed animals onto the ice after the first Hitmen goal. The Hitmen borrowed the concept from the Kamloops Blazers, who first held their event in 1993.

Calgary’s Teddy Bear Toss has seen 332,546 spectators toss 377,583 stuffed animals (an average of 1.135 per fan) over 24 years.

Who’s going to score the Teddy Bear goal?

No current Hitmen player has scored a Teddy Bear goal in previous seasons. It’s a pretty young group.

If you want to handicap things, the team’s four leading goal-scorers are Ottawa prospect Mark Kastelic, Vancouver prospect Carson Focht, Toronto prospect Riley Stotts, and Orca Wiesblatt. But in terms of long-term trends, imports have scored the goal in four of the past seven years, which puts Philadelphia prospect Egor Zamula and Jonas Peterek in contention.

What happens if the Hitmen don’t score?

Honestly, it’s never been an issue. What’s supposed to happen is, if the Hitmen don’t score in the first two periods, fans throw bears when prompted in the second intermission. But in 24 previous tosses, it’s only come close once: Calder Brooks scored with 1:39 remaining in the second period in 2011.

But in 24 previous tosses, 17 of them featured Teddy Bear goals in the first period. Heck, in 2002 it took Rob Smith just 65 seconds to make it rain plush animals.

How many bears should I bring?

One or two should be enough. If you’re coming in a group that includes children, try to ensure that the ratio of plushies to people is 1:1 or greater. And make sure there’s nothing hard within the animal, like a battery case, so that nobody gets hurt if they accidentally get hit with it during the event.