Hat Trick In Hockey – What Does It Mean?

The term “hat trick” is often used during the game of hockey. 

If you have ever been to a live hockey game or watch hockey on tv, chances are you have seen a hat trick at some point.

You will quickly recognize a hat trick by the response of the fans. If you see the fans tossing their hats onto the ice while celebrating, a hat trick just took place.

Normally throwing something onto the ice during the game will get you ejected and perhaps fined. The exception is when a hat trick takes place and people decide to remove their hat and throw it onto the ice. 

Image credit: njene depositphotos.com

What is a hat trick in hockey?

A hat trick occurs when a player scores 3 goals in a single game. The goals have to take place during regulation play or overtime. If the game goes to a shootout, a goal scored does not count towards the hat trick. 

Any player can score a hat trick during the game. The forwards have a better chance of scoring 3 goals in a game but players on defense can score one as well.

As mentioned, if any player scores a hat trick, the fans will usually toss their hats onto the ice in celebration of the player that scores 3 goals during the game.

Hat trick history

It can be difficult to say when the first hat trick celebration of tossing hats onto the ice took place. But according to NHL.com, the term “hat trick” originated in 1946 after a businessman in Toronto offered a hat to anyone who could score 3 goals in one game.

On Jan 26, 1946, a player for the Chicago Blackhawks scored more than 3 goals (4 actually) and collected his free hat.

Although the term hat trick was used in newspapers in the 1930s and early 1940s, it is said that the term originated on the night Alex Kaleta scored his hat trick on Jan 26, 1946, and took the businessman up on his offer. 

What is a natural hat trick?

A natural hat trick is similar to a regular hat trick with the exception being the 3 goals must be scored consecutively or one right after the other. 

If another player scores a goal in between the player who scores 3 goals, it is not considered to be a natural hat trick. 

A hat trick occurs when a player scores 3 goals during the same game.

What is a Gordie Howe hat trick?

Gordie Howe is a legend of the game of ice hockey and is one of the greatest players in history. 

The term “Gordie Howe hat trick” was given to a player who scores a goal, gets an assist, and gets into a fight during the same game.

As Gordie Howe is known to be the best all-around hockey player to ever play the game, anyone who can accomplish scoring a goal, an assist, and a fight will be given a Gordie Howe hat trick. 

Surprisingly, Gordie Howe only had 2 Gordie Howe hat tricks during his career. 

Who has the most hat tricks in NHL history?

The owner of the record of most hat tricks in NHL history is Wayne Gretzky. He scored 50 during his career and during the 1983-84 season, he scored 10 hat tricks in just 1 season. 

This is a record that could stand for a long time. The closest player to catching Wayne Gretzky currently playing in the NHL is Alexander Ovechkin who has 22 hat tricks as of today’s date. 

wayne gretzky
Image credit: ProShooter depositphotos.com

What is the fastest hat trick ever scored?

A record that still stands to this day, Bill Mosienko scored 3 goals for the Chicago Blackhawks in just 21 seconds. The game took place on March 23, 1952, and was played against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. 

How often does a hat trick happen?

A player scoring 3 goals in a game doesn’t happen as often as you may think. 

On average, a hat trick happens around 5-6% of the games played. During the 2020-21 NHL season, there were 60 hat tricks scored. 

Although scoring a hat trick is quite rare, new teams and more players are joining the NHL all the time so the number of hat tricks scored during the season should increase. 

Image credit: ChinaImages @ depositphotos.com

What happens to the hats after being tossed onto the ice?

If you attend an NHL hockey game and witness a hat trick scored with 20,000 fans in attendance, you will see hundreds or perhaps thousands of hats thrown onto the ice.

If the player on the home team scores the hat trick, you could see even more. 

So what happens to all the hats?

Normally, the hats are collected very quickly by the arena crew as the teams wait to play. 

Most of the hats are donated to charity, but the fans are usually offered their hats back in the form of a lost and found where the hat can be collected. 

Also, the player who scores the hat trick will be given an opportunity to keep a hat as a keepsake if they wish. 

Image credit: China Images depositphotos.com