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Innisfail Eagles have toques for town’s needy

Toque toss no longer viable at the Innisfail Twin Arena but fan generosity still as important as ever at annual holiday season event
Vern Loughlean, a director with the Innisfail Eagles Hockey Club, is with Lynn Holinski, chair of the Innisfail Christmas Bureau, at the Eagles hockey game on Dec. 16 when the team hosted its annual drive to collect toques, mittens and toys for the town's needy. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – The toques are no longer tossed to the ice at the special annual holiday season Innisfail Eagles hockey game but the fans’ generosity is still on target.

For several years after 2014 the team’s Stuffy, Toque, or Mitt Toss was an important holiday season event for fans and the Innisfail Christmas Bureau.

It was a hockey team event to raise donated mittens, stuffies and toques for the town’s less fortunate.

Fans in the bleachers were called upon to give a mighty toss of their items to the ice, and watch them slide and scatter all over until picked up by Arena staff and given to the bureau.

But times have changed.

“We’ve doing it different now because they (town) put the netting around the arena so we can't throw the toques onto the ice anymore,” said Randy Graham, president of the Innisfail Eagles Hockey Club. “But we used to throw the toques on the ice like everyone else does in the Western Hockey League, junior A leagues and the NHL where they throw the toques on the ice after the first home team goal.

“But unfortunately we can't do that anymore,” he said. “But we're happy to be able to collect them at the door and be able to donate it to the local community.”

For the Eagles Dec. 16 game fans were still asked to bring mittens, and even toques or stuffies.

But instead of a toss the items were dropped off in a big box in the Arena lobby, or bundled up in bags.

The result was the same. Hundreds of mittens, toques, toys and sundry items were collected for grateful officials and supporters of the Innisfail Christmas Bureau.

Lynn Holinski, bureau chair, was at the game and she told the Albertan that the work for the local Christmas Bureau for 2023 was completed but every item collected was not wasted.

“This will be our starter-up for next year,” said Holinski, adding the Eagles organization has been a “very good” support for the bureau since 2014.

“We do have some things left over and we will have a good start for next year.”

Johnnie Bachusky

About the Author: Johnnie Bachusky

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