Everett-Seattle flashback No. 4

OK, I lied. Here’s one more flashback that comes without a video.

Initially I wasn’t going to to include this one. It’s not that it isn’t worthy. But not only is there no video available, the story I wrote that night didn’t focus on what ultimately made this game memorable (had I been in my 11th year writing about the Tips instead of my first, I would have written this one up a lot differently). But I’ll do my best to recount the game from memory.

It was Dec. 13, 2003. Everett was in its first season, and the Tips were getting into the spirit of being in the WHL by holding their first ever teddy bear toss. For those unfamiliar with teddy bear tosses (and if you’re an Everett fan that could easily be the case), they’re a staple of the league as most teams hold one. On that night fans are encouraged to bring stuffed animals to the game, and after the home team scores its first goal those stuffed animals get thrown onto the ice in celebration. They’re then collected and distributed to local charities.

The Tips decided to get fully into the teddy bear spirit. I can remember being in the press area about two hours before the game and watching as Everett’s players worked the aisles, putting teddy bears on every seat of what was then called the Everett Events Center.

But there ended up being two problems, one strategic and one tactical.

The strategic issue was that the chosen game was a Saturday night against Seattle. I’m sure the idea was to get as large a crowd as possible for a big event. But the T-bird fans traveled well, and they were armed with the teddy bears that had been placed on the seats. When Seattle’s Aaron Gagnon opened the scoring 11:14 into the first period, a few T-bird fans tossed bears onto the ice. Seattle scored twice more in the second period, with each goal causing more bears to cascade down.

The tactical issue was being unable to score a goal. The Tips only managed 16 shots on goal, despite receiving nine power plays. With time winding down in the third period the crowd of 7,605 was restless, and with 21.7 seconds remaining Dustin Johner scored Seattle’s fourth goal. That broke the dam as the frustrated fans started raining the bears onto the ice. The Tips went back to their locker room and never re-emerged, while the T-birds remained on the bench as the final 21.7 seconds were eventually run off the clock.

It was quite the fiasco. So much so that the following season the Tips had a tuque toss instead of a teddy bear toss, and they made sure the opponent (Tri-City) didn’t have as strong a traveling contingent of fans. When Everett was scoreless through two periods, they had the fans toss their tuques during the intermission. The Tips ended up getting shut out again, and there’s been no sign of any kind of toss night at Comcast Arena since.

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