Down 2-0 to heated archrival Utah State University at the Ice Sheet in January, the Weber State University hockey team looked to turn its fortunes around. That change in momentum came with three minutes left in the second period.
Sophomore Dax Hobbs got behind the defense, juked the goalkeeper and found the back of the net. The goal was received with cheers from the crowd. Then the crowd hurled teddy bears onto the ice. The teddy bear toss went to help children at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
“It’s always good to see that,” said WSU junior Phill Jennrich. “When we were on warm-ups, no one saw any teddy bears, so we were worried. But (assistant coach Clay) Hobbs went out there and grabbed a bunch of them. It was fun. It brings people together.”
Team statistician Linlee Jones put the event together, calling the hospital and getting the word out about the event. USU games are some of the most heavily attended home games of the season for the Wildcats.
“I called McKay-Dee back in the beginning of December to see if they would be interested in us helping them,” Jones said. “And they were totally on board for it. I started working on it back in the beginning of December to get it all situated and figure out which game would be the best game to do it on.”
While the team has done events such as a breast cancer awareness game, Jones said she wanted to do something to get the players more involved with the community.
“We haven’t done a teddy bear toss before,” she said. “We have never done something like that. But I’m just trying to get the team more involved in the community and get more awareness out there that we are involved with the community and the area, (and) also to get more people aware that there is a hockey team up at the university.”
The idea of the teddy bear toss came from NHL events, as well as the Utah Grizzlies team. Jones said the WSU players came to her with the idea, and she put it in motion.
“I just want the public to know that these kids are very supportive with what is going on in the community and that they are very hands-on involved with what the team does and what we do,” Jones said. “They help come up with the ideas. I am really proud of the boys because they are supportive of this and want to do this, and want to make sure to help the community and all the kids.”
Jennrich said he looked forward to going to the hospital to see the children and let them know people care about them.
“Kids who can’t be here because they are in the hospital, it just shows that Weber hockey cares for them and that we are here,” he said. “We would love for them to come here when they can. When you get as many teddy bears as possible for them, there is not a better feeling than that, especially when it is for kids.”
Jones said it would be a good experience for the players to interact with the community in such a positive way.
“It’s good for the kids to go to the hospital and deliver the bears and see the kids and make a difference in the kids’ lives. . . . The last thing that they (children) want to do is be in a hospital. To see a hockey player, or anybody, come in and deliver a bear and . . . talk to them for a few minutes, it makes the kid’s day.”
The bears were finally delivered this month after a few months of stalled conversations. Jones said the team is going to make it an annual event and that the event, which will likely be during a USU or University of Utah rivalry game, will be promoted at the start of the season.
“Hopefully it gets bigger and bigger every year,” Jones said.