CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Hitmen are the undisputed world record holders for stuffed bears collected.
Hitmen forward Jordy Stallard’s much-anticipated goal may not have been bardown but it certainly resulted in a beardown at the 21st annual Petro-Canada Teddy Bear Toss.
Stallard ensured a record-setting 28,815 stuffed toys rained down from a sellout crowd of 19,289 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday when his shot from the slot beat Swift Current Broncos goaltender Travis Child at 2:41 of the second period.
“It felt incredible to get it,” said Stallard. “I would have been happy just to win the game, but to get the goal just made it that much better. The fans were absolutely outstanding, and to top it off it’s all for a great cause so it was just a great night all around.”
To cap an already electrifying evening, the Calgary Hitmen also skated away with a win.
Jakob Stukel and Jake Bean scored in the shootout and goaltender Cody Porter turned aside two of three Swift Current attempts to lift the Hitmen to a 2-1 win over the Broncos.
“It’s funny, you hear the older players trying to explain to the younger players on what to expect, but it’s always understated,” Hitmen head coach Mark French said. “The magnitude of it all is hard to explain. The event has taken on a life of its own and it’s something that we certainly highlight on the calendar.”
Hitmen players wore special red-themed teddy bear jerseys that are available to bid on at Elevate Auctions, with proceeds benefiting the CBC Calgary Suncor Food Bank Drive. Each jersey will be accompanied by a custom-made teddy bear. The auction bears, dressed in a one-of-a-kind Hitmen T-shirt, will come with a $25 gift card, courtesy of Build-A-Bear Workshop, and a personalized player voice message.
“It was a special day,” said Hitmen GM and Vice President of Business Operations Mike Moore. “It’s cool to have the record, but it’s not about the record. It’s about everybody out there that is going to be impacted by this game. From all the bears to the jersey auction to the Rainbow Society’s work, it’s an opportunity to make everything a little better and little more special over the holiday season.”
The stuffed toys that eventually made their way onto ‘Dome ice will be shared by over 50 local agencies, including the Calgary Food Bank, Stephen’s Backpacks, the Salvation Army and Siksika Children’s Services.
“It’s a great opportunity as players to give back,” said Hitmen defenceman Jake Bean. “It really puts everything into perspective and shows us that hockey is just a game. There are a lot of bigger problems in the world, but if we can help in whatever way we can then we’re more than happy to do that.”
Since the inaugural Petro-Canada Teddy Bear Toss, held on Dec. 16, 1995, the Hitmen, with the support of their partners and fans, have collected 299,419 stuffed toys for Calgary and surrounding area agencies.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
Hitmen leading scorer Radel Fazleev packed his bags following Wednesday’s road game in Regina for Russia’s world junior team camp in Moscow.
“The GM (Alexey Kochetkov) told me I was invited and I’m honoured to have a chance. Hopefully my health will be good and I’ll try my best,” said Fazleev, who last donned the Russian national jersey when he suited up for the first two games of the 2015 CHL Canada-Russia Series versus Team WHL last month.
Fazleev, who scored in game one of that series, has worked his way through the ranks of Russian hockey, having represented his country at both the U17 and U18 World Championships.
His invite means there could potentially be two Hitmen players represented at this year’s World Junior tournament after it was announced last week that 19-year-old rearguard Travis Sanheim will attend the Canadian World Junior Selection Camp, which runs Dec. 10-14 in Etobicoke, Ontario.
Fazleev will be joined at this year’s camp by fellow WHLers Ivan Provorov (Brandon Wheat Kings) and Sergey Zborovskiy (Regina Pats).
The Russian import, who is in his third season with Calgary, was named the Hitmen Ed Williams Player of the Month for November after recording six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 13 games.