A hat trick in hockey brings fans out of their seats.
While I have never had the thrill of being at a game to witness a hat trick live, I can recall a few that I’ve seen on TV over the years. But I wanted to know more about them; from where did the name come? Who has the record for the fastest one? Read on to find out these answers and more.
Hat Trick Definition
A hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a single game. When this happens, fans become so enthusiastic that they toss their hats on the ice to celebrate. This is more likely to happen when the player is from the home team (it’s hard to be happy about it being against your team).
A hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a single game.
Fans celebrate a hat trick by throwing their hats on the ice.
Variations on a hat trick include a natural hat trick, a Gordie Howe hat trick, and a Texas or Pants hat trick.
How did Hat Trick originate?
This one surprised me, but according to the NHL, the origins of a hat trick come from cricket. As I am less familiar with this sport, forgive me as I attempt to explain. In 1858, bowler H.H. Stephenson took three consecutive wickets against the opposing team from Hallam, South Yorkshire.
I didn’t know what this meant, so I looked further into the game. A wicket is three upright wooden stakes that are hammered into the ground and must be defended. There are many ways to get points in the game, but in this particular case, Stephenson hit the wickets three consecutive times.
To celebrate this accomplishment, the team put together a collection to buy him a hat which was then presented to him. Despite this origin with the term, there are still questions as to how it worked its way into the NHL.
The Hockey Hall of Fame claims that it was a Toronto businessman by the name of Sammy Taft who promised a hat to any player who scored three goals during a Toronto game. Some claim, however, that the term was used by newspapers in the 1930s and 40s.
Alex Kaleta Gets His Hat
If we are to believe the first story, then we also need to believe that Alex Kaleta, a player for Chicago, went into Taft’s shop in 1946. While there, he liked a fedora, but couldn’t afford it. Taft said that if he scored three goals that night against the Leafs, he would give him the hat for free.
Kaleta ended up scoring four goals, which resulted in a 6-5 loss for the Toronto Maple Leafs. This story became an instant hit, and the term has been used ever since. In Montreal, a similar story took place. A hat store named Henri Henri offered players a hat if they scored a hat trick at the Montreal Forum, between 1950 to 1970.
But when then, did the tradition of throwing hats onto the ice start? According to my research, this took place in the 1950s, although there is debate over the city that first started it. Whether it was Montreal or Toronto, we do know it was based on those free hats.
If you have never seen a hat trick, you really should. Check out this video of Joe Thornton, who was playing for the San Jose Sharks at the time, score a hat trick against the Boston Bruins.
Sharks Hat Trick YouTube Video
What Is a Natural Hat Trick?
There are two possibilities for a natural hat trick to happen. The first is the most challenging as it requires the player to score three goals within a single period. The second possibility is when the player scores three goals consecutively in a game.
What is a Texas Hat Trick?
This one was new to me as it likely isn’t that common. But a Texas hat trick consists of a player scoring four goals in a single game. That said, I also saw the term Pants trick floating around. No matter how you choose to label it, it’s still an amazing achievement in this fast-paced game.
What Is a Gordie Howe Hat Trick?
A fun variation on the traditional hat trick is the Gordie Howe hat trick. To accomplish this feat, a player must score a goal, an assist, and get in a fight during a game. Despite being named after the offensive player, interestingly, he only got this hat trick twice in his entire career.
The original Gordie Howe hat trick happened well before his time, by Harry Cameron, a player for the Toronto St. Pats. Fans have even elaborated on this to include double and triple Gordie Howe hat tricks. A double is when two players who fight each other also score a goal and get an assist in a game.
Check out the video below that shows Detroit Red Wings player Pavel Datsyuk check off every item on the Gordie Howe hat trick list.
Pavel Datsyuk’s Gordie Howe Hat Trick YouTube Video
Amazing Hat Trick Stats
Are you curious to know when the fastest hat trick in hockey of all time was achieved? I was too. Bill Mosienko, who played for the Chicago Blackhawks, recorded a hat trick against the New York Rangers in 21 seconds on March 23, 1952.
Who has scored the most hat tricks in his career? Why that would be the Great One, otherwise known as Wayne Gretzky. He recorded 50 hat tricks in his illustrious career. Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy round out the top three with 40 and 39 hat tricks, respectively. These three also topped the list for most hat tricks in one season.
The current fastest hat trick took place in 2018 by Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 91 seconds. This also was a natural hat trick as you will see in the video below, that is they are scored consecutively.
Hat Trick Recorded in 91 Seconds YouTube Video
What Happens to the Hats?
As mentioned above, fans show their enthusiasm over a hat trick in hockey by throwing their hats onto the ice. But what happens to these hats? Well, first is they are presented to the player. From these hats, he can choose to keep one as a memento.
Second, the collected hats are put in a bin where the fans can come and pick up their hat. If any are remaining at the end of a selected time frame, they will donate the hats to a charity or perhaps to sell at a thrift shop.
I don’t know about you, but I have learned a lot about the origins of a hat trick, the different variations, and some fun stats that I didn’t know before. Regardless of what kind of hat trick you witness, they are a whole lot of fun to watch happen.
By Danielle L’Ami
Danielle is a Habs fan who lives and writes in Canada. She is looking forward to the Habs playing against the Leafs for the first time in 42 years in this year’s first-round playoff matchup. Her variation of a hat trick includes three kids in her lifetime.
You are on our Hat Trick in Hockey page.
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