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What Is a Hat Trick in Hockey?

A hockey player is said to have turned a 'hat trick' when he scores three goals in a single game.
Relatively few goals are scored in a hockey game, making a hat trick a difficult accomplishment for a single player.
Soccer terminology has adopted the term "hat trick" to refer to scoring three goals in one match.
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  • Originally Written By: D Frank
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2014
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A hat trick in hockey is when a player scores three goals in a game. The term "hat trick" is often used in sports to refer to a player achieving three of something during a single competition, such as three goals in one soccer game, three hits in a baseball game or three touchdowns in an American football game. Many sports historians believe that the term originated from cricket during the late 1800s, but it is now most commonly used in hockey and soccer. In ice hockey, many fans will salute a player who accomplishes a hat trick by throwing their hats onto the ice.

A Rare Accomplishment

The main priority in hockey is to score goals, because the team that scores the most goals wins the game. A goal is awarded when the puck goes into the opponent's goal, usually after being shot by a player on the scoring team. Relatively few goals are scored in most hockey games, with teams often finishing a game with two goals or less, which is why it is considered a significant feat when a single player scores three goals in one game.

Natural Hat Trick

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It does not matter when the player scores the three goals, as long as they are scored in a single game. If they are scored in succession — with no other goals scored in between — the accomplishment is often referred to as a natural hat trick. The same term also has been used to describe the feat of scoring one goal in each of the three periods of a game or the achievement of scoring three goals in a single period.

Origin of the Term "Hat Trick"

The use of the term "hat trick" to describe an achievement in sports is thought to have started in 1858, after a cricket bowler named H.H. Stephenson was awarded a hat after taking three wickets in three balls — an extremely rare feat in the sport of cricket. Exactly when the term came to be used in hockey is not known, but its use in hockey had become popular by the mid-1900s. About that time, there are believed to have been several hat companies that would award hats to players who had scored three goals in one game. Since at least that time, it has been a tradition for hockey fans to throw hats onto the ice when a player has scored a hat trick.

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anon257873
Post 16

Did you know that in hockey, when a player has three assists in a game, it is called a play maker? An assist is when a player contributes to the scoring of a goal by having passed the puck to the scorer. Most typically, there are one or two players per goal that attributed with an assist on the goal.

anon222600
Post 15

No one knows where the actual hat-trick term came from and probably never will. Cricket, Sam Taft, Magicians, Beheadings... who knows?

A natural hat trick does not have to be in 1 period. So long as the player scores 3 goals in succession without an opponent or teammate scoring in between.

A hat trick is three goals scored by a player in the span of the entire game (this includes OT, but not the shootout). Therefore it is possible for multiple players to receive hat tricks.

Hats are given to the players, however few NHL players need thousands of hats. Any that aren't kept are donated or thrown away, as decided by the condition of the hat. Some teams (most notably, Columbus) also have a bin in their arena where they display all the hats ever tossed onto the ice.

Finally, every goal (and assist, hit, penalty, save, shot, fights and even missed shots) by every player on every team in every game is recorded by official NHL statisticians. That is how the record book and stats databases are able to be kept.

anon146966
Post 14

A hat trick is three goals total in a game. A natural hat trick is three goals in succession not interrupted by another person scoring.

anon145428
Post 13

Well that doesn't clear things up.

Is it three goals in succession by a player without opposition in a period or three goals by a player in in a period or one goal in each period or three goals by a player in a game?

Who officially keeps these stats of this or is it just left to the opinions of the media and broadcasters and their stats department?

How do they officially determine a hat trick? Is there anymore confusion to this?

anon131638
Post 12

A true natural hat-trick is when a player scores three goals consecutively in one period, but most refer to three goals in a row by one player a natural hat-trick. this is incorrect!

anon69848
Post 11

I thought a hat trick was scoring three goals in a period. However, three consecutive goals makes more sense. Mr. Gretsky has the record for most hat tricks. I doubt if the record will ever be broken.

anon65712
Post 10

A hat trick is when a magician performs a trick with a hat. The rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick hat trick, for instance.

anon56654
Post 9

I hate seeing that tv spot " that's what i call a hat trick " do any of you know what a real hat trick really is? You don't see a basketball player making three in a row calling it a hat trick, and throwing a whole lot of balls on to the court? Actually "hat trick" is as old as King James. It is when three beheadings rolled down a wooden slug and landed in the same spot.

anon45941
Post 8

Hey all: Do all three goals have to be in regulation time? Bobby Ryan of the ducks scored regular goals and the winner in OT. Still a hat trick?

anon31703
Post 7

ummm. it is pretty simple question. what is a hat trick?

anon10851
Post 6

It was a young Alex Kaleta of the Chicago BlackHawks who was awarded the first hat by Sammy Taft. He had gone shopping for a hat in his shop and when he couldn't afford to buy the same, Sammy offered to give him the hat he wanted if he scored three goals. Young Kaleta went out and scored four goals that night and the legend of the hat trick began.

anon8767
Post 5

Sammy story is a great urban legend.

Most have agreed it came from Cricket

A hat trick originally meant three goals in a row, with no intervening goals by either team. Hockey borrowed the term from Cricket. In 1858, a cricket player in England took three wickets with consecutive balls, an incredible trick. As a reward, his club gave the bowler a new hat, hence the term "hat trick." Also, a "natural hat trick" is the term now used for scoring three back-to-back goals without anyone else scoring a goal in between.

anon7637
Post 4

What happens to the hats that are tossed onto the ice after a hat trick is scored?

anon2843
Post 3

It's always been three goals in one game, doesn't matter when.

anon1739
Post 2

Why Was I originally under the impression that a Hat Trick was One Goal, at least, in Each Period? A Player Needed at Least 3 goals but could have more. Did This Change or was it always any three (3) Goals in a Game?

anon359
Post 1

Did you know that the origin of the "hat trick" was started by Sammy Tetef who changed his name to Taft. Sammy lived in Canada and owned a hatery. When ever someone scored 3 goals in a game he gave them a hat from his store. FYI

Moderator's reply: Great addition to our article! Thanks for the info!

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