by Lisa Brown on 12/07/13 at 03:55 PM ET
The Edmonton Oil Kings can add another checkmark to their season. This year's teddy bear toss was on a Friday night in the blistering cold in Edmonton, -30 C or -22 F and that's before the wind chill, but the hockey faithful braved the weather and bundled up to support the home team and raise some money and donations for the 630 Santa's Anonymous charity. When the final count came in, 10,128 teddy bears of various shapes and sizes were thrown to the ice. According to the Oil Kings, this was the first time in Oil Kings' history that the team collected more bears than there were fans in the stands. To add to those totals, during the jersey auctions and raffles held at the game, $19, 675 were raised for children in need throughout the city.
A WHL teddy bear toss is enough to make a game interested, but this year was especially interesting because of the Oil Kings' oppentents. This year, the teddy bear toss was the one night of the regular season when the Oil Kings played the new rival Portland Winterhawks. While the two teams only face each other once a year, they have met the past two seasons in the WHL finals. The Oil Kings won the 2012 bout, but lost out in 2013.
Despite the fact that these two teams see each other so infrequently, there is indeed a sense of rivalry developing.
"I’m sure that both teams had it circled on the calendars and I don’t think that it disappointed," exclaimed Edmonton Oilers' draft pick Mitch Moroz of the Oil Kings.
"I think that’s pretty clear [that there is a rivalry]. Really get a hate on for each other when you play each other that many times, especially when you play each other so many times in the finals on such a big stage. Even our game in potland last year during the regular season was a hell of a game. So it’s always fun playing those games."
Moroz nearly had the Gordie Howe hat trick missing only an assist after scoring in the shootout, and fighting in the second period in a tilt that changed the attitude of the entire game.
"I’m throwing my body around and getting some energy in the building" Moroz said of playing the Winterhawks "The guys fed off of that in the second and we finally got that teddy bear out of the way, we started to play our game more."
Moroz has been garnering the attention of Oilers fans throught the city as the Oilers continue to struggle, continue to show the holes in their line, and continue to show their need for the elusive power forward that many hope Moroz will one day be. Laxday had a glowing review of Moroz's efforts Friday night saying "I thought Mitch was good. He tried to play a physical game. If you don’t get pucks in the air for Mitch to get down and get a hit then obviously he’s going to be less effective but he had a couple of good looks in the slot. He had one on the first shot of the game. I thought that he did a good job, he obviously responded in the shootout for us too."
To date, Moroz has 17 goals, 11 assists and 83 penalty minutes, and more than half of the season left to play. We'll be watching and waiting for him to hit 30 goals.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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