Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Hat trick


What do hats have to do with hockey? I’ve heard the expression hat trick when people are discussing hockey games, and I think I’ve read it in the business pages, too.


This rather unusual expression is used often in hockey. When a player scores three goals in a row, or even three goals in one game, we call that a hat trick. Hat trick also refers to a team’s winning three games in a row. You will see hat tricks, either three goals or three consecutive wins, in other sports and games. In fact, if the feat of winning three horse races in a row didn’t already have the grander title of “winning the triple crown,” we’d probably call that a hat trick, too.

The expression hat trick began in the 1800s when a cricket bowler took three wickets in a row—an unusual feat—and was given a new hat by his teammates. In Canadian hockey, some sponsors awarded hats to players who achieved three goals in a game. When someone scores a hat trick in the NHL, hats are thrown onto the ice.

In other uses, anyone who accomplishes three significant actions in a row can be said to have made or scored a hat trick. For instance, if a business has three successful years in a row, or a filmmaker wins three major awards, that can be seen as a hat trick.