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Hartford Wolf Pack

Bears Win, Set Teddy Bear Toss Record

It was Teddy Bear Toss Night in Hershey in a highly anticipated return to form for the event, and it was a rousing success from top to bottom

Bears Win, Set Teddy Bear Toss Record

HERSHEY, Pa. – It was Teddy Bear Toss Night in Hershey in a highly anticipated return to form for the event, and it was a rousing success from top to bottom. The Bears dropped the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack by a 5-0 count and set a new record for stuffed animals thrown at a hockey game with a new mark of 52,341. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby led the way in his return from the Washington Capitals early this week, causing a second cleanup delay with a hat trick. Pheonix Copley earned the shutout in this one, stopping all 23 shots he faced, while the Wolf Pack had to go with a tandem effort after starter Keith Kinkaid exited with an apparent injury. Adam Huska played the third period in relief.

The game marked Hershey’s first sellout of the season, with a crowd of 10,513 on hand to let the stuffed animals fly at the first goal. The Bears didn’t make them wait very long, as Jonsson-Fjallby scored his first of the night just over six minutes in on the power play to cause the fur to fly. The delay lasted a substantial period of time, and the Bears would finish the remainder of the first strong by adding to their lead with Brian Pinho’s second of the season.

After a fairly even middle stanza, the Bears opened up the scoring in the third when Joe Snively scored his 12th of the season on a fortunate bounce that goaltender Huska did not see to further expand the lead. Jonsson-Fjallby tallied his second of the night by jamming the third rebound on Huska into the net and completed the hat trick for a second cleanup on the night by taking a home run pass from Garrett Pilon and burying it for the final goal on this night. The speedy Swede takes over the lead in goals for Hershey courtesy of this night with 13, while the big guns continued to work their magic for the Bears. Snively had a goal and two assists, while Pilon had three helpers, and Shane Gersich added an assist to continue his recent scoring success.

“First and foremost, it’s a special night for the teddy bear toss and all the good that it brings,” Bears head coach Scott Allen said after the game. “52,000, there’s going to be a lot of happy kids and it’s a little bit bigger than a hockey game. There’s obviously the challenge of playing the game when there’s a significant stoppage in play after that, but you want to get that goal out of the way as soon as possible and try to move on. Extremely proud of our guys the way they performed, for sure.”

The Bears smashed the previous record of 45,650 set in 2019 and continue to pace the hockey world when it comes to plush items thrown in a hockey game for charity. The Bears have a lot of fun with the event as evidenced by the players leaping into the piles building up along the corner boards, and the fans came out in full force to support it with the first sellout plus of the season.

The only downside to the game was losing Pinho to injury in the second period when he appeared to take some friendly fire from Cody Franson. Pinho did not return to the game.

 

The game does, however, build a lot of intrigue for a rematch Sunday afternoon at Giant Center. The Bears brought a heavy physical presence in the return of Eddie Wittchow, who was paired with Kale Kessy and Riley Sutter for the majority of the game and made their presence felt. The line contributed to a lot of pot-stirring in the game, and some of the frustration of the Wolf Pack missing top players like Anthony Greco, Jonny Brodzinski, Tarmo Reunanen, Tim Gettinger, and Zac Jones all unavailable due to recall to the New York Rangers.

Losing Kinkaid certainly doesn’t help matters for the Pack, who were knocked from the top spot in the Atlantic all the way to fourth in the closely compacted standings race. Hershey moves into first place by the slimmest of margins, only 0.001 ahead of the Providence Bruins. The rematch will get underway at 3:00 PM today.

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