The popular Teddy Bear Toss promotion of the Florida Everblades netted about 7,000 stuffed animals of all sizes, shapes and descriptions Saturday night at Germain Arena.
Fittingly, playing his first game Ryan O'Byrne scored the Everblades' first goal in the second minute of the first period. That was the cue for the announced sellout crowd of 6,579 to shower the ice with Teddy Bears and their stuffed cousins.
Players and special volunteers spent several minutes picking up the toys and removing them in pickup trucks, boxes and bags so that play could resume.
CAROL ORR HARTMAN
Leigh Salters, Brayden Irwin, Mathieu Roy, Aaron Bogosian, and Ryan O’Byrne carry stuffed animals they were delivering Monday to young patients at Golisano Children's Hospital.
The Everblades went on to beat the Greenville Road Warriors 4-3.
On Monday, all of the Everblades players and staff delivered them to young patients at Golisano Children's Hospital at Lee HealthPark. After a welcoming reception, they walked the halls and stopped to visit with patients and their family in their rooms, and pose for photos.
It is all part of the team's community partnership that also includes Breakfast with the Blades fundraiser that benefits Children's Hospital as well.
O'Byrne's goal was his first in the ECHL after having played six seasons in the NHL.
The Warriors returned to the ice to take a 2-1 lead before the Blades could answer with a tying goal by David Rutherford. A powerplay goal by Matt Beca gave the Everblades a 3-2 lead for good.
Justin Shugg grabbed a rebound shot near the right boards and scored the game-winning goal. The Warriors got one goal back, but were unable to overcome the two-goal deficit.
Blades goaltender Pat Nagle stopped 28 of 31 shots faced to seal the victory.