Sweet, sweet nostalgia.
Hockey is a team sport in almost every way. There are really only two individual accolades a player can accomplish in a given game: scoring a hat-trick or getting a shutout. While impressive, these feats are common enough that they are never the lead story on Sportscentre, or front page news. I realized that there are no hockey equivalents of a no-hitter and a perfect game, or hitting for the cycle. So I decided to create one.
I started by firing up the player game finder at hockeyreference.com. If you’ve never used the player game finder at hockeyreference.com, say goodbye to the rest of your day. It allows you to search individual and multiple games, as well as seasons by almost any statistical parameters you can imagine. I was looking for an individual feat that was rare, but not so rare as to be impossible to achieve.
We all remember Mario Lemieux scoring 5 goals 5 ways (ES,PP,SH,Penalty shot, and EN) but that has only happened the one time, so it’s out. 10 point s in a game is an NHL record held by only one man, Darryl Sittler, so that’s no good. I put the question out there on Twitter and the responses echoed my initial attempts.
5 goals 5 ways is an impressive, but not a very repeatable feat. On the other hand, 3 goals: one scored at Even Strength, on the Power Play, and Shorthanded, is impressive and seemed like something that would be rare enough to mark a genuine achievement. So I searched hockey reference for players with games who matched those criteria.
- Since the 1987-88 season the feat has been accomplished 94 times by 75 different players.
- Only 12 players have accomplished it more than once in their careers. The most surprising player to do so, some guy named Tyler Wright.
- Brendan Shanahan and Brett Hull both managed it 3 times in the career.
- The last player to record one was Corey Perry on December 12, 2010.
- Current Leaf Matthew Lombardi has done it once in his career.
The feat needs a name, and I think it’s fitting to name it after the player who accomplished it far more than any other. The above and beyond leader of the pack: Mario Lemieux with 7.
Thus, I give you The Mario Lemieux Hat-Trick.
Since this is an offensive accomplishment, it doesn’t make sense to compare it to a no-hitter or perfect game, but mf37 offered an appropriate corollary on Twitter: “By my math, 87 players in MLB have hit for the cycle since 1987. Interesting that the NHL & MLB numbers are within 10%”
So there you have it, The Mario Lemieux Hat-Trick is the NHL equivalent of hitting for the cycle, let’s make this a thing.