Imagine standing there, arms up in the air, teammates converging in celebration and thousands of tossed teddy bears cascading down around you.
It’s a familiar scene from the growing hockey holiday tradition known as the teddy bear toss, and the Vancouver Giants will carry on the custom Friday when they host the Prince George Cougars at the Pacific Coliseum.
“In the room before the games, the guys are always calling that they’re going to score the goal and they’re going to get all the teddy bears out there,” said Giants forward Dalton Sward.
“That first goal is pretty exciting when you see all the bears coming down on the ice.”
The Giants would like to pump a few more goals home. The Western Hockey League team is now trying to snap a three-game losing streak that started immediately after concluding a seven-game skid.
As a result, the Giants occupy the bottom spot of the B.C. Division and the WHL Western Conference.
The Cougars are fourth of five teams in the same division with a 10-17-1-3 record.
For all of the Giants’ struggles this season, they have a chance to gain massive ground on the Cougars in the standings. The two teams play each other three times in three days – once in Vancouver and twice in Prince George.
Surely they’ll be sick of each other by Sunday afternoon.
“Whenever you play a team back-to-back, or in this case three in a row, there’s going to be some intensity built up as the games go on,” said head coach Don Hay.
“They’re really important games for both teams and I’m sure there’s going to be some hard play between both teams.”
Both teams will make the roughly nine-hour bus trip to Prince George following Friday’s game in Vancouver.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend for both teams but we can’t use that as an excuse because they’re in the same boat as we are,” said Sward.
And, of course, there’s a learning component to this.
“It’s a good introduction for us into what it could be like in the playoffs when you go back-to-back,” said Hay.