SIOUX CITY | This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands.
Hey Classic Rock fans, remember this Styx hit from the 1981 Paradise Theatre album? Three from the original five-man lineup were raised in Chicago, specifically from the Roseland neighborhood, not including the singer of that smash, Tommy Shaw.
Yes, this is what occurs when there’s no games, no calls to the office. Research. It’s all about United States Hockey League hat tricks which have occurred this season.
This exploration is a product of last Saturday’s game at the Tyson Events Center when Sioux City Musketeers’ right wing Sam Kurker (15, 13) had the squad’s second hat trick of the season in a 4-2 win over Fargo. Teammate Joel Janatuinen (12, 17) had the first in a 7-5 win over Tri-City on Nov. 22.
Chicago, the USHL’s leader with four hat tricks, will host the Western Conference-leading Musketeers Sunday. The Steel’s Mason Bergh leads the league with 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists), one point more than the USHL’s forward of the week, the Musketeers’ Adam Johnson (15, 21).
Bergh has one of the USHL’s 16 hat tricks this season. One of two Steel players on the U.S. Junior Select Team that Musketeers Coach Jay Varady guided to a gold-medal finish in the World Junior A Challenge Dec. 14-20 in Kindersley, Sask., Bergh tallied all of Chicago’s goals in a 4-3 loss at Bloomington on Nov. 26.
Fredrik Olofsson (12, 13) scored Chicago’s first hat trick of the season in a 4-3 win over Bloomington on Oct. 17. Ryan Blankemeier (11, 8) scored three goals in a 7-4 win over Des Moines on Dec. 5 while Brendon Kearney (9, 10) had a hat trick in an 8-1 win over Madison on Dec. 12.
Incidentally, Kurker turned in the last of the league’s four hat tricks last weekend. Two of them came in the same game.
Boston University recruit Clayton Keller (5, 11) scored a power-play goal 56 seconds into overtime to complete a hat trick for Team USA in a 5-4 win over Green Bay on Friday at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Former Omaha Lancer Ryan Tait (11, 5) scored his third goal for the Gamblers at the 11:30 mark of the third period. However, Keller’s second goal of the game, a power play at the 13:25 mark, forced the extra session.
Cooper Marody (7, 9) may have turned in the league’s fastest hat trick of the season for Sioux Falls in Friday’s 6-4 win over Tri-City. A total of 6,007 fans at the Denny Sanford Premier Center saw Marody, a Michigan recruit, tally his third goal at the 11:29 mark of the first period.
Eleven USHL teams have had at least one hat trick and 11 teams have allowed a hat trick. One of them came from a former Musketeer.
Waterloo’s Brock Boeser, third in the USHL with 35 points (19, 16), had a hat trick in a 6-4 win at Lincoln on Oct. 31. Boeser, who had three goals and two assists in eight games for the Musketeers last season, had four assists the next game for the Blackhawks, assisting on all three goals for Tyler Sheehy (11, 16) in a 7-4 win at Chicago Nov. 6.
Nothing happens when a player turns in three or more assists. Kurker had four assists in a 7-5 loss to Lincoln on Dec. 19 at the Tyson Events Center, two on power-play goals from Janatuinen while Jake Durflinger (5, 12) also turned Kurker’s assists into two man-advantage goals.
Two or three hats sailed to the rink when Kurker completed the hat trick on an empty-net goal with 44 seconds left remaining in Saturday night’s game. A shame no more went out, but then again, it was a cold and snowy night.
Still, it was special for Kurker, a 6-2, 209-pound native of Reading, Mass., a 2012 second-round NHL Draft selection of the St. Louis Blues.
“I’d say my last one was before college,” said Kurker. “It feels good, but it really feels good to get two wins over the weekend. I think that’s the best feeling. Clearly, we haven’t had the best run the past few games, but two wins is huge for us.”