It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays bring out the best in people, and when it comes to the Tri-City Americans annual Teddy Bear Toss game, the fans are at their most generous.
The Americans will host Seattle on Friday in their 17th annual charity game. Over the years, more than 31,000 stuffed animals have found their way into the arms of area children.
“There is a lot of hype and the fans love it,” said Tri-City veteran forward Max James, who with four goals this season does not see himself potting the Americans’ first goal of the game. “It’s really good for the community. Hopefully it is a big turnout this year.”
Forward Nolan Yaremko will be playing in his third Teddy Bear game, and is looking forward to the shower of furry critters.
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“Obviously it would be nice to score that goal, but it’s about when it comes,” Yaremko said. “We are all pretty excited about the game.”
The Americans are 12-3 with one tie in the Teddy Bear game. This is Seattle’s fifth time playing in the game, but the Thunderbirds have only one win.
Former defenseman Clayton Stoner is the only Tri-City player to score the teddy bear goal more than once (2003-04). The fastest goal is 36 seconds, by Tyler Sandhu in last year’s 4-3 win over Victoria.
“There’s an excitement, an electricity in the air,” Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. “The guys are always talking about getting out there, getting a good start and getting the crowd into it. The crowd is ready to see that first goal scored and get the bears out on the ice. It’s a special night.
“A fast start would be terrific. It is always a bit nerve wracking. You want to have a good start and give yourself a chance to get it out of the way early and gets some momentum. You get the crowd into it early, that helps your team.”
The Americans will get a little help on the back end Friday as Dylan Coghlan returns from his league-imposed two-game suspension. Juuso Välimäki still is a couple games from returning from a lower-body injury.
“It will be great to get Cogs back to bolster the D,” James said. “He is having a great season.”
Up front, the Americans could see center Michael Rasmussen back on the ice. He has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury.
“Razzy is close, and there’s a chance we’ll see him,” said Williamson, noting that Beck Warm will start in goal. “We will see how the next two days of practice go. No matter who is in the lineup, we need a better effort than we had (Tuesday) against Saskatoon. We took a step back.”
Playing their sixth game of a seven-game homestand, the Americans have failed to take advantage of home ice, posting a 2-3 record over the past two weeks.
“We just need to find our game again,” Yaremko said.
Tri-City Americans who scored the teddy bear goal (all in the first period except where specified):
2016 | Tyler Sandhu (:36), 4-3 win over Victoria
2015 | Juuso Välimäki (2:07), 3-2 loss to Everett
2014 | Richard Nejezchleb (7:31), 4-0 win over Seattle
2013 | Connor Rankin (1:31, 2nd), 5-1 loss to Prince George
2012 | Parker Bowles (12:29), 8-4 loss to Seattle
2011 | Jordan Messier (11:58), 4-3 (SO) win over Everett
2010 | Brendan Shinnimin (1:10), 4-1 win over Seattle
2009 | Brooks Macek (11:57), 5-2 win over Portland
2008 | Mitch Fadden (:58), 4-1 win over Calgary
2007 | Shaun Vey (13:10), 5-2 win over Seattle
2006 | Colton Yellow Horn (11:57), 4-3 win over Spokane
2005 | Logan Stephenson (11:43), 4-0 win over Everett
2004 | Clayton Stoner (10:34, 2nd), 2-2 tie with Kelowna
2003 | Clayton Stoner (1:48), 4-2 win over Everett
2002 | Jake Riddle (4:08, 2nd), 4-3 win over Portland
2001 | Jordan Cameron (:37), 7-4 win over Vancouver