PASTRICK: Hershey Bears fans set world record by tossing 45,650 stuffed animals on ice

(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)

If there’s one thing Hershey does right it’s … well, it’s chocolate.

But followed closely behind that is tossing stuffed animals onto a hockey rink.

If you’ve never experienced the Teddy Bear Toss first-hand or even seen it on video, it’s an incredible sight to behold.

The idea is simple: Bring a stuffed animal to the hockey game (many minor league teams do it) and toss it on the ice when the home team scores its first goal. The lovable toys are then distributed to children at local charities, oftentimes with players doing the handing out.

As good as it sounds, it’s even better in action.

Armed with tons of stuffed animals, Hershey Bears fans had to wait 8 minutes and 11 seconds Sunday night before they could unload their furry fury onto the ice below.

But what a moment it was.

In all, fans tossed 45,650 stuffed animals on the ice at Giant Center. And that’s a world record, with Hershey fans beating their own record of 34,798, set last year.

Christian Djoos punched in the rebound of a Joe Snively shot, claiming the title as 2019 Hershey Bears CommunityAid and abc27 Teddy Bear Toss goal scorer. The Bears are the American Hockey League affiliate of the Washington Capitals.

Fans came ready to toss plush.

You won’t get this kind of silliness in the NHL (the league doesn’t look kindly on anyone throwing stuff on the ice), but that’s why the minor leagues are much fun.

To be fair, an NHL spokesman told ESPN that “Player safety is an obvious reason, but so is fan safety. At NHL arenas, a high percentage of anything thrown from the stands would hit other fans.”

OK, OK. But these are stuffed animals, after all.

Even players had a field day.

A spokesperson for the Bears says it took about 30 minutes to clean up all the stuffed joy on the ice. (And another 10 to do a dry scrape of the ice with the Zamboni.)

After that, the Bears got back to the business of hockey. And not only was it a great night for stuffed animals, but it also was a great night for the Bears, who defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack in overtime, 4-3.

It’s not certain who started the whole idea of throwing plush animals onto the ice, but an ESPN report says the concept has its roots in the 1990s.

The WHL’s Kamloops Blazers are considered to have held the first recorded teddy bear toss on Dec. 5, 1993. That first outing resulted in over 2,400 bears and stuffed toys.

Seeing how far it’s come, one can only image what next year will hold.