Sam Gartner has seen a lot of stuffed animals fly onto the ice in his four years on the Regis Jesuit hockey team, but none bigger than came down Friday night.
The Regis Jesuit senior goaltender, who doesn’t cut the largest figure in the net, swears he saw at least one epic-sized bear come down at the Family Sports Center during the Raiders’ fourth annual Teddy Bear Toss.
Hyperbole aside, that bear — possibly supplied by Regis Jesuit defensive lineman Ace Escobedo — helped fill part of one of 20 garbage bags of stuffed animals thrown down by fans after the home team’s first goal that are destined for Children’s Hospital Colorado as presents to provide Christmas cheer to young patients in the coming weeks.
“There was at least one bear that was bigger than me, it was huge,” Gartner said with a smile after his team’s impressive 7-1 win over Resurrection Christian.
“That was awesome,” he added. “It was the most I’ve seen in four years of doing this. It just shows the Regis community and the animals go to the kids in the hospital, so it’s a win-win.”
With fans itching to throw the stuffed bears, giraffes, lions, elephants, monkeys, pandas, dogs and various Pokemon characters they came with, senior Eamon Duffy finally made it possible with his power play goal just eight minutes in the game,
It wasn’t the fastest goal in Regis Jesuit’s Teddy Bear Toss history, which stretches back to 2012. That distinction still belongs to Jacob Frishman, a then-senior who scored just 1 minute, 5 seconds into a 9-0 rout of Cheyenne Mountain in 2013 that brought the animals onto the ice.
The event began for the Regis Jesuit ice hockey team in 2012 after team members saw a viral video of a minor league hockey team in Winnipeg, Canada, which collected an estimated 25,000 stuffed animals at their event. Raiders’ fans filled four garbage bags on that occasion.
Best of all, the Teddy Bear Toss seems to bring out the best in Regis Jesuit’s play, as coach Dan Woodley’s team is 4-0 in those games and outscored opponents 30-5.
Woodley was grateful for the showing and hopes the fans come out to watch his talented team, even when there’s no Teddy Bear Toss.
“The fans sure did a great job of bringing teddy bears and they were very supportive of our team and were very loud,” Woodley said. “I thought it was great fan support and I hope the boys continue that throughout the year. It really does make it a nice environment throughout the year to have that kind of excitement in the stands.”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel