Teddy Bear Toss season is the best season

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Once U.S. Thanksgiving comes and goes and the holiday season arrives, that can only mean one thing in the hockey world: Teddy Bear Toss time.

If you’re not familiar with the event, teams encourage fans to bring stuffed animals to the rink and when the home team score their first goal of the night they let the fur fly. It’s a promotion that’s taken place in junior and minor hockey since the early 1990s and has taken off in the last decade.

On Saturday night, the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors hosted their Teddy Bear Toss Night and Joseph Gambardella was the one to get the party started in the second period.

The count took place on Monday and, according to the Condors, there were 8,415 stuffed animals tossed onto the Rabobank Arena ice, the second-highest total in team history. In the 20-year history of the event, the team has donated nearly 130,000 stuffed animals to dozens of organizations through the United Way of Kern County.

That was just the warmup.

In two weeks, the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen will host their Teddy Bear Toss Night, and if you haven’t seen what the atmosphere is like inside Scotiabank Saddledome when the fur gets flying, it’s something special. The team has set the bar for this promotion with their fans delivering every year. Last season’s event saw 24,605 stuffed animals collected, just 4,000 shy of the all time record of 28,815 they hit in 2015.

It’s truly the greatest promotion in sports.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.