Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ hockey fans had to wait until the final buzzer to toss their teddy bears onto the ice on Friday after the Victoria Grizzlies shut out the ‘Dogs 5-0 in B.C. Hockey League action.
The annual teddy bear toss traditionally sees fans throw stuffed toys onto the ice after the home team scores their first goal of the night. The event, which happens at other BCHL games during early December as well as other junior hockey leagues, is a way to collect donations of toys, warm socks, mitts and toques to be distributed to people who need them throughout the rest of the year. Fans brought new items wrapped in plastic bags, and volunteers with the Port Alberni Toy Run were selling special Toy Run bears for those who didn’t bring anything with them.
Despite many chances in front of Victoria goaltender Oliver Auyeung-Ashton, the Bulldogs failed to score a goal.
Game day operations manager Laurie Thomson said Bulldogs’ fans were generous despite the shutout. She hadn’t counted all the stuffies by Monday, but said there were numerous packages of socks, mitts and toques among the hundreds of stuffies.
“We’ve got some very thoughtful fans and community to make sure we cover all those areas,” she said.
“I think there’s more (warm clothing items) this year than previous years, which will really help in community.”
Players will be around town this week handing out stuffies to seniors’ facilities, Ty Watson House hospice, West Coast General Hospital, Sage Haven Society, Salvation Army, the RCMP and ambulance stations for adults and children who need some comfort during emergencies.
“The players appreciate that they can deliver these and hopefully bring somebody a little bit of joy during this time,” Thomson added.