‘Tis the season in the Western Hockey League, with a flurry of fluff flying from the stands.
And it’s Victoria’s turn for their ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ game Dec. 17 vs. Tri-City.
“Excitement is beyond belief, it’s been two years and it feels longer,” said Royals’ fan experience senior manager, Christian Gagne.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no Teddy Bear Toss game in 2020, so this year, the team hopes Royals’ fans can eclipse the more than 42-hundred that came down from the stands two years ago.
“If there’s a way we can get enough bears on the ice to not see ice anymore, it would be mission accomplished for all of us,” said Gagne.
Additional bears have been brought in for any fans coming to the game empty-handed. And all the bears that hit the ice after the Royals’ first goal Friday will be donated to a variety of Island charities.
As popular as the Teddy Bear toss game is for fans, it’s a night the players are looking forward to as well.
“You get to interact with the fans, I think that’s the best part about it is, theres’ always that one huge teddy bear where four of five players are trying to get it over with their sticks and all the fans are trying to get it across with standing on the glass and pushing it over,” said Royals’ Captain Tarun Fizer.
“Personally, I’ve never had one in my life, so just to be able to see that crowd in attendance and just to be able to experience for my first time will be great,” said Royals’ defenceman and San Jose Sharks’ prospect Gannon Laroque.
For the player that scores the bear-launching goal, it may be the most special of any during the season.
“Yeah, obviously it would be pretty cool. I think everybody kind of wants that goal,” said Royals’ leading goal scorer Brayden Schuurman.
“We always joke around before the game who was going to get the goal and if you actually get the goal it’s pretty special and all the teddy bears start raining down as you’re celebrating, so it’s pretty cool,” added Fizer.
Win or lose, the real Royals’ victory is to once again host this special night on the schedule.
“It’s just being able to have this again, to be able to able to congregate again, enjoy, cheer the team on. Just being able to live those experiences again,” Gagne said.