From The Los Angeles Loyolan
By Catherine Galanti
The holiday season brings many recognizable pairings. Red and green. Santa and reindeer. Cookies and warm drinks. Hockey and teddy bears?
While they may seem like an unlikely pairing, the connection between the two has had a long history, dating back almost three decades. In 1993, the Kamloops Blazers, a junior team from British Columbia, Canada, began the tradition of throwing teddy bears onto the ice after the home team scores their first goal of the game. Since its inception, the “Teddy Bear Toss” has spread internationally, with hockey teams all over the world holding similar events.
This week, LMU club hockey looks to continue the tradition with their fourth annual Teddy Bear Toss game on Dec. 4. The team is facing West Coast Hockey Conference opponent California State University Long Beach (CSULB), and will be donating all bears to the Richstone Family Center, a local charity benefiting children and families recovering from abuse.
“It’s a really fun event, and it gives an extra dynamic for the fans. It’s something to look forward to while also doing something good,” said Tyler Goeckner-Zoeller, LMU Club Hockey’s general manager. “We get pictures of [the foundation] handing out the bears, and it’s just amazing that we can do something like that and also make it more fun.”
Last year, the team could not hold the event in-person as the 2020-2021 season was canceled, but they did hold a virtual teddy bear toss where fans could donate bears remotely. In previous seasons, when the event could be held in-person, LMU’s teddy bear toss has been one of the team’s biggest events. In 2019, the team reached a record 301 toys donated, up from the previous record of 116. The team is looking forward to having fans return to watching games in-person, and hopes that the excitement for watching live games and the atmosphere that hockey is known for will translate into enthusiasm for giving back.
“Hockey is one of the best spectator sports. [The teddy bear toss] is a really perfect chance for people who have never been to our games to come out and get the experience of seeing one of our hockey games,” said Goeckner-Zoeller.
In addition to the teddy bear toss, the game itself should be exciting, as CSULB is one of LMU’s toughest conference rivals. The two teams have already faced each other once this season, with LMU taking the win 3-2. Goeckner-Zoeller stressed the importance of the team proving itself against a bigger program, like CSULB, and how this matchup is an opportunity for LMU to stay undefeated against conference opponents — hopefully opening a path to the American Collegiate Hockey Association regionals. However, even though the stakes are high, Goeckner-Zoeller noted that the focus is on charity and that the team is staying relaxed. “[CSULB] is the second-best team in our conference,” he said with a laugh.
In past years, there have been buses available to take fans from campus to the game. This season, the team was not approved for bus games, but hopes fans will still be able to come out to the Skating Edge Ice Arena in Harbor City to catch the game on Saturday at 5:50 p.m. If fans aren’t able to make it in-person, they are still encouraged to support the cause by purchasing bears through the team’s Amazon registry to be donated on their behalf.
(Originally published at http://www.laloyolan.com/sports/warm-and-fuzzy-club-hockeys-charitable-tradition-returns/article_7cef2eda-8b02-53ee-87f5-a142df1b8904.html)