ECHL League-Wide Teddy Bear Toss Competition

Photo Credit: Andrew Fielder, Bernie Walls, and Taylor Trebotte for Inside the Rink

In mid-December, Inside the Rink reported on the history of the Teddy Bear Toss event held in both the AHL and ECHL hockey leagues. With the last of the ECHL Teddy Bear Toss events having concluded in January, we may now give you a final wrap-up on the ECHL results* of that event and give you our picks for the ECHL’s “Three Stars of the Game” for the 2023-24 season.

The top three teams heavily encouraged their fans to bring stuffed animals in the weeks leading up to their event on various social media platforms. Each team had a reported attendance that was less than the number of total bears collected. Meaning, that the success of the event was not solely based on that team’s overall attendance. It seems that all three teams had fans who brought in multiple items to be donated to charity, demonstrating the popularity of the event for their respective teams.

*of teams that had reported their numbers online at the time of this publication

Three Stars:

  1. Jacksonville Icemen – 14,762 Stuffed Animals
  2. South Carolina Stingrays – 14,237 Stuffed Animals
  3. Atlanta Gladiators – 13,624 Stuffed Animals

Atlanta Gladiators – 13,624

The Atlanta Gladiators hosted their Teddy Bear Toss night on December 16, 2023, to a crowd of 5,769 reported fans. Of our top three honors, this is the second-highest attendance reported. Navrin Mutter, with an assist by Alex Whelan and Luke Prokop, would get the Teddy Bear Toss goal credit this year, with his goal made at the 3:29 mark in the first period, resulting in 13,624 cuddly animals being thrown out onto the ice.

The event has grown in the last several years for the Gladiators, with the team reporting just 5,534 in 2017. During the 2022-23 season, the team boasted a record-breaking 15,067 stuffed animals tossed on the ice just 51 seconds into the game.

All of the stuffed animals were rounded up and distributed to local children’s charities across the area including the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.

Video Credit: Atlanta Gladiators

South Carolina Stingrays – 14,237

The South Carolina Stingrays’ annual Teddy Bear Toss game was held on December 3, 2023, and resulted in the collection of an impressive 14,237 stuffed animals by 4,900 which is the lowest attendance but the highest ratio overall with roughly three bears tossed per person. The Teddy Bear Toss goal was made by Austin Magera, assisted by Tyson Empey and Kevin O’Neil. This season beat last year’s tally of 12,380 teddy bears for the Stingrays.

These stuffed animals were donated to local non-profit organizations such as The Salvation Army, Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Jean’s Angels, Ronald McDonald House, and Toys for Tots ahead of the holiday season.

Video Credit: South Carolina Stingrays

Jacksonville Icemen -14,762

During the Icemen’s Teddy Bear Toss held on December 2, 2023, Riley Fiddler-Schultz scored a Powerplay goal at the 7:30 mark of the second period, prompting the teddy bear celebration to begin. The crowd of 8,523 fans tossed 14,762 teddy bears and other stuffed animals onto the ice. In 2019, the team reported that 11,371 stuffed toys were collected that year and have consistently been around that mark in recent years.

All of the stuffed animals were gathered up and generously donated to various local children’s charities, just in time for the holidays.

Video Credit: Jacksonville Icemen

The Teddy Bear Toss will likely remain a fan-favorite and, with any luck, continue to grow in popularity within the ECHL. This year over 114,000 bears were collected in total – all to benefit local children.

There is no set limit on the number of teddy bears fans can donate. The more donations each team receives, the better, as each contribution goes a long way in bringing joy to a child in need.

Karen Zehner

Credentialed Beat Writer covering the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators. Diving into the world of slap shots, penalty kills, and the game we love. [@RunwithK] on socials.

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