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CHL Weekend Review: Holiday cheer sweeps the circuit with Teddy Bear Toss

 

Another busy week across the Canadian Hockey League as the calendar turns to December.

Here is the latest from around the circuit:

Teddy Bear Toss

The annual Teddy Bear Toss tradition swept the CHL this week with several markets taking part, including Calgary where an incredible 25,025 stuffed animals hit the ice when the Hitmen’s Carson Focht scored. The holiday fun also took place in Erie, Flint, Kamloops, Kelowna, Kingston, Medicine Hat, Rimouski, Sault Ste. Marie, Sherbrooke, and Swift Current.

Fans are invited to toss their stuffed animal on to the ice following the first goal, with the plush toys then collected and donated to local charitable organizations supporting families and children in need during the holiday season.

Delivering the Bears

Just hours following the flying fur, a trio of WHL clubs show us just what the Teddy Bear Toss is all about as the Hitmen, Rockets, and Tigers delivered toys and brightened spirits.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital, Kelowna General Hospital, and Medicine Hat Regional Hospital were the primary stops on Monday’s tour.

Santa Claus Parade

The holiday spirit also hit the street where the Moose Jaw Warriors and North Bay Battalion took part in their local Santa Claus Parade, while the Calgary Hitmen also got in on the fun in participating in Zoolights, a local event that brings the holiday celebration to the Calgary Zoo.

Wawanesa Toy Drive

The 36-stop Wawanesa Toy Drive continued this week with events in CHL communities including Barrie, Brandon, Lethbridge, London, Moncton, Red Deer, Quebec, and Saint John. The Wawanesa Toy Drive encourages fans to donate new and unwrapped gifts, while one lucky donor will also hear their name called from a grand prize draw awarding a trip for two to the 2020 Memorial Cup Presented by Kia in Kelowna, B.C.

Rogers Hometown Hockey

The Canadian hockey community was celebrated Sunday as Rogers Hometown Hockey made its second stop this season in a CHL market, live from Red Deer, Alta., the hometown of host Ron MacLean. The celebration also saw several special guests on hand including two-time Memorial Cup champion and former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan.

Rogers Hometown Hockey will visit four other CHL cities in 2019-20, including Hamilton (Jan. 19), Ottawa (Feb. 9), Quebec City (Feb. 16), and Edmonton (March 29).

Hitmen Hart Night

Staying in Alberta, the Hitmen announced that the club fundraised more than $16,000 as part of its Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart Night earlier this month. The funds will be donated to the Calgary Prostate Research Centre.

Founded in 1994, the franchise name in inspired by local-born professional wrestler and a founding member of the club in Bret Hart.

Nick Robertson is a forward

It’s a correction that ‘Steve Dangle’ is happy to make. After mixing up the position of Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nick Robertson of the Peterborough Petes, the longtime internet personality of the hockey world teamed up with the club to produce ‘Nick Robertson is a forward’ T-shirts.

In all, five dollars from each shirt purchase goes toward Autism Ontario, so far raising $300. Furthermore, Robertson is doing his part in pledging 50 cents up to $500 for each like of his tweet showing a photo of himself with Dangle with both sporting the specialty shirt.

Honouring Hawerchuk

A pair of former junior teammates in New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux and New Jersey Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood who previously suited up together with the Barrie Colts took some time ahead of a Saturday showdown to pay tribute to their former junior coach in Dale Hawerchuk who is currently battling stomach cancer.

Signed and sealed

Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Tracey became the latest CHL talent to land an NHL contract after signing a three-year agreement with the Anaheim Ducks.

Selected 29th overall in 2019, the reigning WHL Rookie of the Year has kept up his dominant offensive showing this season as through 14 appearances he has collected 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points while also launching a ‘Points for Hunger’ campaign which raises funds to provide lunches for Moose Jaw youth in need.

The Calgary native becomes the 24th CHL talent selected in 2019 to have since signed an entry-level contract.

Hardy named captain

The headlines continued in Moose Jaw where head coach Tim Hunter announced veteran forward Owen Hardy as the 33rd captain in franchise history.

Added from the Giants in early October, the 20-year-old is competing in his fifth season in the WHL, bringing plenty of experience alongside 39 goals and 41 assists across 251 career contests. Through 18 games with the Warriors this season, Hardy has made an immediate impression in collecting 11 points counting nine goals and two assists.

Legendary Chiefs enshrined

Rounding out the west, the Spokane Chiefs continued their Top 35 Chiefs in 35 Seasons campaign in adding five new faces to the list, with November’s additions including Troy Gamble (1986-88), Dmitri Leonov (1993-96), Lynn Loyns (1997-01), Mitch Holmberg (2009-14), and Jason Fram (2011-16).

Guinness World Record

It was a record-setting day in the QMJHL as Victoriaville Tigres graduate Samuel Finn set a Guinness World Record in honour of his late brother. In all, Finn becomes the all-time record holder for the most burpees in a 12-hour period, counting 5,234, surpassing the previous high-water mark of 5,010. In all, Finn’s record works out to about seven burpees per minute!

Finn’s feat helped raise money, in his brother’s name, for cancer research. For more information and to make a donation visit burpees4ced.com.

A Bond Forever

Another inspirational story in the fight against cancer took place in Charlottetown where the Islanders rallied behind young fan Kellan McAdam who has developed quite the friendship with goaltender Matthew Welsh.

The pair bonded during a Children’s Wish Foundation Christmas party a year ago and have stayed connected ever since. Kellan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, otherwise known as ALL, and dropped the puck on Friday for the club’s ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ game.

Surprise showing

Paying tribute to veterans and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Remparts held a pregame ceremony Sunday with the two sons of Sergeant Patrick Blanchette on hand for a ceremonial faceoff.

To their surprise, however, their father, who had been deployed to Mali for the past four months, stepped on to the ice as a “special guest” as part of the big reveal.

Welcome Back

Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Jared McIsaac made his season debut on Saturday after being sidelined with a shoulder injury since his surgery in June.

McIsaac is one of 27 CHL players who have been invited to Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp and was a member of Team Canada last season.

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