By Alberto Muro
An abundance of stuffed animals were seen flying all over Rabobank Arena during a match between the Bakersfield Condors and San Diego Seagulls.
On November 26, The Bakersfield Condors held their 18th annual Teddy Bear Toss. The Teddy Bear Toss is a charitable event in which the Condors organization encourages fans to bring a stuffed animal to throw onto the ice when the Condors score their first goal. The overall objective behind the event is to donate the stuffed animals to less fortunate children. As of now, it is estimated that a total of 100,000 stuffed animals have been donated since the event first began.
The first puck drop of the night contributed to the eruption of fans cheering and anxiously awaiting for the Condors to score. Players from both teams fought for puck possession in the early minutes of the first period. The protective glass swung in motion with players as they slammed each other into the boards. Goaltenders from both teams wasted no time defending their nets from oncoming pucks. Goaltender Dustin Tokarski’s overcame the Condors offense which allowed the Seagulls to score during the first period.
At the end of the first period, San Diego had a point lead over Bakersfield. Both teams headed back to the locker rooms and worked on their next strategies while two Zambonis resurfaced the ice rink. Second period began with a highly anticipated scoring opportunity by the Condors as players raced towards the Seagulls goaltender. The Condors offense switched to passing plays during the 2nd period, and they managed to stay in the Seagulls’ zone. Bakersfield Condors goaltender Nick Ellis’ actions involved diving, extended his limbs, and absorbing impact to prevent the Seagulls from scoring during the 2nd period.
Neither teams could break the goaltenders defense as the 2nd period concluded. Ice crews began clean up again as players readied themselves for the 3rd period. Once the goaltender nets were put into place, the players came back onto the ice. Condors fans held onto their stuffed animals in anticipation as the 3rd period started.
The Condors won the puck drop at the start of the period and a fight to maintain puck possession behind the Seagulls net began. The moment every fan was waiting for occurred when Condors center Anton Lander tipped the puck into the net. The goal horn sounded and stuffed animals began flying from every direction. Condors players, ice crew members and the junior league players helped collect the stuffed animals from the ice. Due to safety regulations, players from San Diego had to sit in their locker room until the collection was over.
Once the collection was complete, players came back onto the ice and continued playing in the 3rd period. The Condors were able to net another goal which was met with cheers from fans. As the period came to an end, San Diego overcame the Bakersfield defense and tied the game. With their second goal of the game, San Diego sent the game into over time. Condors fans were anxious once again as they stood from their seats watching 5 minutes of close calls. Unfortunately, the Bakersfield Condors succumbed to a goal by San Diego ending the game 2-3.
Despite a loss, Bakersfield fans were still happy to partake in the yearly tradition of the Teddy Bear Toss.