What is a Hat Trick in Hockey?

a pakced hockey arena with fans throwing their hats in the air after a hat trick

Have you ever watched a hockey game where a player scores a goal, the packed arena goes wild, and some fans throw their hats on the ice?  Why do they do this? Well, the answer is because a player scored a hat trick. What’s so special about a hat trick? In this article, we’ll explain what a hat trick in hockey is. We’ll also dive into the history of hat tricks and discuss the different kinds of hat tricks.

A hat trick is rare in hockey, but they happen, and few things are more exciting to witness! The crowd goes bonkers, the coaches and players get fired up, and Sportscenter will show the highlights. And no matter what hockey league it happens in, that player will remember that game for the rest of their life! 

What is a Hat Trick in Hockey?

Scoring a goal in hockey is one of the toughest things to do in all of sports, but how about scoring three goals in the same game? Now, that is an incredible feat! A hat trick in hockey is when a player scores three goals in a single game. It’s an accomplishment every hockey player dreams of, but very few achieve. Unless your name is Wayne Gretzky, putting the little black puck in the net is very challenging, and doing it three times should be celebrated accordingly.

One of the things that make hockey the best sport is tradition. One of the great traditions in hockey is when the fans throw their hats on the ice after a player scores a hat trick. It’s much better when a player from the home team scores the hat trick, and the ice is flooded with hats. But even when a visiting player gets one, you’ll still see a couple of ball caps flying over the glass onto the ice.

hockey players celebrating after scoring a hockey hat trick

Why is it Called a Hat Trick?

There is some debate on when the term “hat trick” was first used. The first recorded use of the term hat trick dates all the way back to 1858, and legend has it that it came from the sport of cricket in England. H.H. Stephenson made three consecutive wickets and was awarded a fancy new hat, which people called a nice trick.

According to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the story of the first hockey hat trick goes like this: 

It was 1946 in Toronto, and the Chicago Blackhawks were playing the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before the game, Blackhawks left-winger Alex Kaleta was shopping for a new hat and went into Sammy Taft’s hat store. Kaleta wanted a nice new hat but didn’t have enough money. The two started talking, and Taft said that if Kaleta scored three goals that night, he’d give him a free hat. And that’s exactly what Kaleta did.

When the Toronto media got wind of this story, they wrote an article about it, saying it was a nice trick by Kaleta to earn his hat, and the phrase hat trick was born. Taft was a savvy businessman and promoted his hat store by giving away a free hat to any NHL player who scored three goals in Toronto.

Who Has the Most Hat Tricks in Hockey?

You probably could have guessed this one. The same guy who holds just about every significant NHL record has this one, too. Wayne Gretzky has the NHL record for most career hat tricks at a whopping 50. Here are the top 10 career leaders in hat tricks.

1Wayne Gretzky501979-1999894
2Mario Lemieux401984-2006690
3Mike Bossy391977-1986573
4Brett Hull331986-2006741
5Phil Esposito321963-1981717
6Alex Ovechkin302005-830
7Marcel Dionne281971-1989731
8Bobby Hull281957-1980610
9Maurice Richard261942-1960544
10Cy Denneny251917-1929247

See the complete list here.

Different Kinds of Hat Tricks

There are several different kinds of hat tricks in hockey, and now, we’ll go over all of them.

Natural Hat Trick

Sometimes, a hockey player gets in “the zone” and dominates, and they take over a stretch of one game. They get a magical boost like Super Mario eating a mushroom. A natural hat trick occurs when a player scores three consecutive goals without anyone else scoring in between them.

A natural hat trick is extremely rare and an incredible sight to see. There isn’t any data in the NHL record books about natural hat tricks, but I would put my money on Gretzky to hold this NHL record, also.

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

the legendary Gordie Howe, one of the best hockey players of all time

I absolutely love the Gordie Howe hat trick; it symbolizes what hockey is all about and why it’s the best sport on this planet. A Gordie Howe hat trick is when a hockey player scores a goal, gets an assist, and gets in a fight in a single game.

To get one of these, a player must be a Swiss army knife. They must be capable of putting the puck in the net, setting up their teammates, and not be afraid to drop the gloves (hockey slang for a fight).

Gordie Howe was as tough as they come and could also score with the best of them. Howe ranks third on the NHL’s all-time scoring leaders. Surprisingly, Gordie Howe does not have that many Gordie Howe hat tricks. The career leader for Gordie Howe hat tricks is Rick Tocchet, with 18.

Double Hat Trick

This one is just crazy! Scoring one goal in an NHL game is challenging enough, and getting a hat trick is a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Can you believe some hockey players scored six goals in one game?  It’s actually happened eight times in NHL history. Joe Malone is the only player in NHL history to score seven goals in a game back in 1920 as a member of the now-defunct Quebec Bulldogs.

A double hat trick is when a hockey player scores six goals in a single game. It hasn’t happened in the NHL since 1976. Double hat tricks are more likely to occur in junior leagues like the CHL, where there is a wide talent gap.

Texas Hat Trick

Everything’s bigger in Texas, right?! Including their hat tricks. A Texas hat trick is when a player scores four goals in a single game. Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky are tied for the most four-goal games in NHL history with 13.

Final Thoughts on Hat Tricks in Hockey

In the end, hat tricks in hockey are more than just statistics. They’re moments of magic, bursts of brilliance that light up the rink and leave hockey fans in awe. They’re a celebration of skill, a testament to hard work, and a darn good reason to lose your hat.

Each hat trick is a story, a chapter in the grand narrative of hockey that makes the sport not just a game but a spectacle. If you’re lucky enough to witness a hat trick of any kind, whether it’s a Gordie Howe hat trick, a natural hat trick, or a traditional hat trick, you’re seeing hockey history. So next time you’re at a game and see those hats flying, remember, you’re not just witnessing goals; you’re witnessing history being made, one hat at a time!

Related Articles

What does PIM in Hockey Mean?

With acronyms like SOG, OTL, GWG, GAA, and lots more, hockey terms can leave even the most seasoned…

The 15 Best Swedish Hockey Players of All Time

We’ll go through our list of the best Swedish hockey players of all time. Best known for their…

What Are Forechecking and Backchecking in Hockey?

It’s time to discuss the strategic nuances behind one integral part of hockey strategy: the…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *