A lot of hockey fans filled up the Tucson Convention Center on Friday night, and there were also some humans as well.
The Tucson Roadrunners hosted their first-ever Teddy Bear Toss against the Ontario Reign, and just 4:45 into the game, long-time Arizona Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek buried the biscuit in the basket, and the teddy bears made their way to the ice.
“It’s pretty cool to see all those bears come over the boards,” Tucson goaltender Adin Hill said afterwards. “There’s nothing like it...special.”
The best part comes at 2:30 of the video when a giant teddy bear slowly climbs down the stairs on a fan’s back, and then gets a standing ovation when it tumbles over the glass.
Like we said, big 's are cool pic.twitter.com/iE9zOKmGSK— Tucson Roadrunners (@RoadrunnersAHL) December 10, 2016
That’s Kyle Wood using his equipment to get the big one over the edge.
“The girls were telling me about it but I didn’t know what they were saying,” explained Wood of the moment. “But I saw it and I wasn’t tall enough to get it, so I got my stick in there and tried to help out anyway I could.”
Wood, who is playing in his first year in the AHL, had been through plenty of these in the Ontario Hockey League.
“We do Teddy Bear Tosses in junior and stuff so it was cool to see it,” he continued. “There was a lot, so it was nice to see the fans involved that way.”
This put Tucson up 1-0, and they would take a 3-0 lead before the first intermission.
But Ontario came back, tallying a goal in the final minute of the second period, and two more in the third to tie things up.
The Roadrunners got a power play on a delay of game penalty at the 14:39 mark of the third, and just ten seconds later, Wood blasted a shot from the point for his fifth goal of the year.
“It was definitely big,” the 20-year-old said of his goal. “It’s been a rough couple games for our power play, and it was nice to get one late there.”
However, just 23 seconds later, the Reign tied things up again, and this one would go to overtime.
Tucson started the extra period on the power play, so instead of the normal 3-on-3, it was 4-on-3.
And with just one second left on the power play, Christian Fischer scored his fourth goal of the year and gave Tucson its first win in just under two weeks.
“They were just changing, but it was little hectic on the ice,” Fischer said of his goal. “Just cut to the middle, shot it, and there was a lot of players in front of their goalie so it went in there.”
After the goal, he gave it to the Ontario bench a little bit, which actually led to a postgame skirmish featuring none other than Paul Bissonnette.
“It was just a big win, and obviously emotions run high, so yeah, just great win,” Fischer joked about his celebration. “That was just full-on reaction.”
What makes the team’s win a little more shocking than normal is the fact that the Coyotes called up Laurent Dauphin and Anthony DeAngelo, so the Roadrunners were playing a bit shorthanded, and had to make some last-minute adjustments to their lineup.
“It’s the AHL, things happen,” Wood explained of how the team had to adjust. “People go up, people go down, and you just gotta adapt and those were two big parts of our team the game before, but the guys played hard tonight and it was a solid effort.”
“You know, they’ve reacted to a lot of things this year already, so getting a couple players called up is minor,” head coach Mark Lamb added about his team. “I give the players a lot of credit. They come to work, they come to practice, whatever the situation is there’s a great leadership group in there.”
The next time the Roadrunners are in action is Friday, December 16th when they take on the San Antonio Rampage in Texas. Tucson will practice Saturday, and then take Sunday off for some much-needed rest.
“You just don’t want to think about it for a couple days,” Lamb said about getting away from hockey for the time being. “You just want to relax, go see your family, and take a little break. When you do get some breaks like this, you have to take it. Our guys can have some fun, do whatever. It’s Christmas time pretty much, so they have to take care of all that stuff. They have to have time to shop.”