It’s been awhile folks.
Welcome back to the broadcast blog! Why have I been gone so long? Well the Heat have been very busy.
It’s funny how last year’s schedule was so bottom heavy where as this year, we’re pretty evenly spread out. Do you know that for the remainder of the season we have five home games per month? Crazy how even it’s going to be, but looking ahead, that month of March will prove very tough and as it did last year, most likely sort things out in the Pacific Division.
However there’s a couple big games coming up this week including Teddy Bear Toss on Saturday that I thought I’d share my top 5 interesting facts for the toss. The toss, which encompasses all 11 previous seasons of hockey in Stockton, turns 12 years-old this season!
5. Stockton holds a .682 points percentage in Teddy Bear Toss Home Games
Dating back to January 28, 2006 in an ECHL matchup between the the Stockton Thunder and the Long Beach Ice Dogs, the Thunder and Heat have found great success in the popular promotion. In fact, the Thunder and Heat have combined to go 6-2-1-2 all-time in these games. It certainly doesn’t mean they win all the time, but it doesn’t hurt that the building is usually packed, momentum on Stockton’s side, and a win or at least a point happens nearly 82% of the time.
The Condors have been the opponent on Teddy Bear Toss night twice in the ECHL with the Thunder coming up with a 6-1 win back in 2007 and squeaking by in a 4-3 shootout win in 2014.
4. 45% of the Teddy Bear Toss Goals have been Scored in the First Period
That means get here early folks! Of the 11 toss events in Stockton’s history, five games have featured a goal in the first period including 2009 and then from 2011 through 2014. The fastest in Teddy Bear Toss history came during my first year with the team in 2014 when Alex MacLeod scored 2:48 into the game (oddly enough…against the Condors)
Of those five, first period goals, three of them came in the first six minutes of the game but the one that’s super interesting is Jesse Fratkin’s goal back in 2013 when he scored with one second remaining in the first period at the 19:59 mark! I bet that was Tito’s favorite toss of all time!!!
3. The Exact Number of Bears ever donated is Unknown
And it’s all because of the first year of the toss back in 2006. Who’s to have told the group who kicked off hockey with a bang that the Teddy Bear Toss would be Stockton’s favorite event for the next 11 years and that the actual number should have been recorded. The actual count of bears from year two through year 11 was recorded but the only number from year one was “over 3,300”, meaning the exact number of bears collected from January 2006 to January 2016 is lost to history.
The official number we go by is 53,570 bears donated in the history of the event but the actual number…well…we’ll never know.
2. The First Teddy Bear Toss Goal Scorer in Thunder History was Drafted in the Exact Same Spot as the First Teddy Bear Toss Goal Scorer in Heat History
This one still blows my mind that Nathan Martz, who scored the first Teddy Bear Toss goal against the Long Beach Ice Dogs back in 2006 was selected in the exact same spot in the NHL Entry Draft as Kenny Agostino, who scored the first Heat Teddy Bear Toss Goal last year.
Both players were taken in the fifth round, #140 overall with Martz going to the New York Rangers in the draft and Agostino going to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the draft. Eerie right?
However it’s not a surprise to learn that the majority of the goal scorers in the game were undrafted but of players to score the opening goal in regulation, three of the four players drafted happen to be fifth round draft picks with Martz, Agostino and Jim McKenzie who scored in 2011, who was selected a spot later in the fifth round, #141 overall by the Ottawa Senators.
The lone drafted player to score to unleash the bears was Harrison Reed in 2013 who was taken in the third round, #93 overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. To add one more interesting wrinkle, if you include the 0-1 shootout loss from 2010, Anthony Aiello scored the first shootout goal and he was also a fifth round selection, #129 overall by the Minnesota Wild.
Unfortunately when it comes to using this “fifth round” method to select who you think may score this year, you will find it hard because the lone fifth rounder happens to be in Adirondack right now (Ryan Culkin). The closest to that #140 overall selection is Keith Aulie, who was taken in the fourth round, #116 overall, but not far behind is Andrew Mangiapane in the sixth round, #166 overall.
However, if you want to go by using the “undrafted” theory as to who will score this year, captain Mike Angelidis, Matt Bailey, Brandon Bollig, Ryan Lomberg, Kenney Morrison and Kayle Doetzel can be your options!
1. The Heat shattered the previous record of the number of bears donated in a single game by 2,396 last year
Not bad for your first year eh?
Back in 2011, the Thunder collected 5,835 bears, which stood as the record throughout the Thunder’s history but was ultimately dismantled by the new record high established last year, the first season with the Heat, as a total of 8,231 bears were collected!
That means that nearly everyone in attendance last year brought a little over a bear per person (1.04 bears per person), much higher than in 2009 when Stockton fans only brought .62 bears per person.
When you look at the history of the event as a whole, only twice have the amount of bears donated gone down, once from 2008 to 2009 (-316 bears donated) and again from 2011 (the record year) to 2012 (-1,129 bears donated). This year we’ve set a lofty goal of over 10,000 bears for the first time in Stockton Hockey history. Even if we hit 10,000, that would be an increase of at least 1,769 bears, which is very doable considering that from the last year of Thunder hockey to the first of Heat hockey, Stockton fans brought 2,560 more bears than the season before, the highest increase in one season of all-time.
So there you have it folks, my favorite five facts from the Teddy Bear Toss, which has easily become one of my, if not, my favorite night on the schedule. Think I’ll have to whip the ol’ Don Cherry suit out for Saturday too. Special occasions require the best suit in the repertoire right, even if they do look your grandma’s curtains!
See you all Saturday! Don’t have your tickets yet…there are fewer than 1,000 seats available now so call 209.373.1500 from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. from now through Saturday!
In honor of the Teddy Bear Toss I wanted to find a good bear logo and I’ll give you one of my all-time favorites. It’s the alternate logo the Boston Bruins used from 1995 to 2006 and it is magnificent.
Sure it’s one of those 1990’s alternates that pushed the design to the limit and yes, the jersey in reference is usually referred to as the Winnie the Pooh jersey (which I own and love) but this logo and jersey always was one of my favorites of the 90’s.
The bear to me looks rather majestic and real. The multiple shades of brown are a cool tough to provide some depth in the bear’s look, however ultimately, the bear looks more cute than mean, I do give the detractors of the logo that.
Cute and cartoony is what many say, hence the Winnie the Pooh nickname. I get cute, don’t see cartoony so much, but I will always love this jersey and logo and would love for the B’s to use this when the inevitably play another outdoor game for 90’s nostalgia sake.
Speaking of which, starting to feel really old with my final year in my 20’s approaching, but I’ve been very nostalgic as of late for the 90’s, similar to how my parents generation thinks back to the music, toys, and culture of the 60’s and 70’s when they were growing up.
I’ve had to explain who Teddy Ruxpin is and had to tell a teenager that yes, indeed the song he was listening to was by Sugar Ray in the last 24 hours.
Brandon Kisker is the Heat’s Director of Broadcast & Media Relations and is in his fourth season as a broadcaster in Stockton and second for the Heat. He yells a lot when excited, but that yelling is genuine, and typically fist pumps when goals are scored or big saves are made. He thinks Rick Jenerette is really top shelf…..and that is where mama hides the cookies. While he’s ready for Teddy Bear Toss on Saturday, he’s also really excited for Pride Night on Friday to honor his sister and sister in-law. Follow him on Twitter @kiskerbc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.