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Calgary Hitmen's Carson Focht scores goal to unleash 25K teddy bears on Saddledome ice
CALGARY -- It didn't take Carson Focht long to find the back of the net at the annual Teddy Bear Toss game at the Scotiabank Saddledome Sunday. He scored just 1:34 into the game.
What Focht's goal unleashed was a torrential downpour of 25,000 teddy bears that required considerably longer than 1:34 to scoop off the ice.
“We had a good entry and carried it in and got a shot on net and then a recovery," Focht said, describing the fateful goal. "My linemate Orca (Weisblatt) passes to the point to Jackson Van de Leest. He took the shot and I was able to tip it in.”
Make no mistake, every player on the team wanted to score the goal that unleashed the teddy bear tsunami. It means a lot. Focht said It was amazing to see 25,000 stuffed animals hit the ice.
"It's a really special feeling when you score that goal," he told CTV in a post-game interview. "Teammates are around you and just to see the magnitude of the bears coming down (from the stands) is really special.
"Just to see that support from the fans," he added. "It’s really great and we just truly try to take it in and enjoy the moment.”
And as much as Focht and his teammates enjoyed the moment of teddy bear bliss Sunday, it meant even more Monday morning. That's because the team paid a visit to the Alberta Children’s Hospital to hand out the stuffies.
One of the lucky recipients was Brayden Billingsley, who happens to be a big Hitmen fan. He was at the game Sunday, then came to the hospital on Monday for his treatment.
Billingsley said getting the stuffed animal from Focht meant a lot to him.
"Just going for an appointment and (then) I’m going back up to get another needle for me," Billingsley said. "It’s nice to have this bear when I have to do things like that."
Focht said making the children smile is what it’s all about and the Monday after the Teddy Bear Toss is one of the team's favourite days of the year.
“Seeing all their faces brighten up — it’s so awesome just knowing they’re having a tough time right now," he said. "Just to be able to take them away from that for just a second and maybe forget about it just means the world to us and we’re so happy to be here.”
Over 70 local agencies, including the Salvation Army, Calgary Food Bank and the Siksika Nation, will share thousands of teddy bears this season.