Railers forward Ross Olsson, first Worcester hockey player to achieve a hat trick, the Gordie Howe hat trick
WORCESTER – Which sport animal will go extinct first, the full game of baseball or the hat trick of hockey?
As sport evolves from art to science, it loses a part of its humanity, which is not necessarily good or bad. It’s just the reality. In hockey, there is nothing more human than a hat trick and an ice cap covered in headgear.
When Railers forward Ross Olsson scored a hat trick for the Adirondacks at the end of last month, it was a little unusual. Even more unusual – Olsson also had a Gordie Howe hat trick – a goal, an assist and a major fight in the same game.
Worcester ultra-hockey fans Darryl Hunt and Rich Lundin have asked if any of the town’s 622 pro players have done this before, and when either or both ask a question, it deserves a question. responnse.
This answer is no.
It took 1,801 games to happen, but Olsson is Worcester’s first pro with a double hat trick – the regular and the Gordie Howe.
The definition of a hat trick has broadened over the years. It was originally very unique and very difficult to achieve – a player scoring three consecutive goals in the same period. Gordie Howe’s hat trick is essentially a misnomer. He played 2,186 games in the NHL and WHA combined and only had two Howe Hats.
It was mainly because Howe was such a good fighter that no one wanted to face him.
The number of hat tricks has declined steadily since the IceCats brought professional hockey here in 1994-95. They had 37 in 11 years, the Sharks had 12 in nine years and the Railers had four in four years. Hat tricks are weird statistical creatures, however. While the Railers have had just four in the regular season, they have the only one in a Worcester playoff – there have been 99 games in all – Nick Saracino in Adirondack on April 21, 2018.
And Olsson’s is the only one to be part of a Gordie Howe.
History behind the hat tricks in Worcester
Worcester’s first hat trick was Martin Mercier of the IceCats on October 29, 1994, in a 5-5 draw at Hershey. The first at home was the next night by David Haas in a 4-3 loss to Rochester. They were also the first in consecutive games.
Fred Knipscheer has the most, recording four in 1995-96. It’s a Worcester single-season, all-time record. No one else has more than two per year or per career.
There have been four “natural” hat tricks, the old-fashioned kind where a player scores three in a row over the same period. John Carter did so on Jan. 4, 1995, at the then Centrum against Cape Breton in his five-goal game, the only one in Worcester history.
Bob LaChance had one in 1997, then the Sharks had two in 2014-15, both against Portland. Freddie Hamilton did it in Worcester on October 26, 2014, and Jeremy Langlois did it in Portland on January 21, 2015. Langlois was memorable. The Sharks were behind, 2-0, at the start of the third period, and Langlois scored at 7:06, 12:07 and 18:10 to give Worcester the victory.
Olsson is part of a record – a city’s most hat tricks. He’s from Billerica, as is Dennis McCauley, who scored an unlikely hat trick for the Sharks in Springfield on Feb. 3, 2010. McCauley was known more for his penalty minutes than his goals and was in the lineup tonight- there because Logan Couture was unavailable.
McCauley’s surprise feat was similar to that of Kevin Sawyer at the DCU Center on December 30, 1998. For the season, Sawyer scored eight goals and 299 penalty minutes. In that game, a 4-2 victory for the IceCats over Springfield, Sawyer scored three goals and no PIM.
No Worcester player has scored a hat trick on his debut, but Chris Kenady did manage one on February 28, 1996, in the first game he scored. While Carter is the only player with five goals, Michal Handzus scored four on Jan. 9, 1998, in Providence as the IceCats beat the Bruins, 6-5. His fourth won the game in overtime.
Jeff Panzer scored a hat trick in the IceCats’ memorable 7-6 overtime win over Manchester on March 30, 2003, and his third goal was the OT winner.
Some other hat trick quirks:
• Worcester teams are 49-2-2 when someone has a hat trick.
• No Worcester defenseman has ever recorded one, although Terry Virtue did have one for the IceCats on December 7, 1996, while playing on the right wing.
• Marty Reasoner had a hat trick in Syracuse on December 11, 1999, in a 6-5 victory with one of the goals scored from a penalty shot. Derek Bekar had the only opening night hat trick, in a 4-0 victory at Lowell on October 6, 2000.
• Nic Pierog is the only player to record a hat trick both for and against Worcester. He had one for the Railers in a 5-2 win at Reading on January 4, 2020, and also scored four goals at the DCU Center on March 19, 2019, in a 7-4 win at Manchester.
• Jim Campbell of Westboro had a 3-3-6 night out in the IceCats 9-4 victory over Saint John at the DCU Center on December 28, 1999. The Flames’ starting goalie was so bad he was replaced by an emergency replacement, Rick Poirier, a firefighter from New Brunswick. Campbell scored on Poirier, who after the game explained how exciting it was to give up a goal to a former NHL sniper.
Oh, and there’s a guy from Westboro on this year’s Railers, Jordan Smotherman, so maybe this town has a chance to match Billerica’s record. It would be even better if Smotherman did it at the DCU Center.
Think about all those hats on the ice.
—Contact Bill Ballou at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BillBallouTG.