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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published November 07 2012

There's more to a hat trick than what happens on the ice

GRAND FORKS – When Connor Gaarder one-timed a shot past Boston University goalie Sean Maguire on Friday night, it set off a longtime hockey tradition.

It was Goal No. 3 of the game for Gaarder, the hat trick goal, and many of the 11,589 in Ralph Engelstad Arena tossed their hats onto the ice to celebrate the achievement.

It’s a festive atmosphere, with the goal horn sounding, the goal song blaring and hats raining down from the stands. But after all of that’s done, what happens to all of those hats?

First, the Ralph Engelstad Arena ice crew rounds all of them up on the ice. This usually takes a couple of minutes. All of the hats are eventually collected together in the penalty box area and put in bags.

After the game, the player who got the hat trick is allowed to pick out one hat to keep. On Friday, Gaarder picked out a Vancouver Canucks hat that he said he would give away.

The rest of the hats are then carried to the security office, which is located near the student entrance on the north side of the arena. Fans can reclaim their hats there after the game.

Hats that are not claimed after the game are stored in the lost and found at the same location. Fans have until the end of the month to pick up their hats. If they are not picked up at that point, they are donated to a local organization.

A hat trick by the home team at The Ralph also usually sends fans in droves to the Sioux Shop, which is located by the main entrance on the east side. The Sioux Shop sells new hats with 33 percent off for the rest of the game.

“We were really busy,” Sioux Shop manager Jason Carlson said Friday after the game.

Fans know to get the deal while they can. With scoring trending down in college hockey, hat tricks are not real common these days.

In fact, Gaarder’s hat trick was the first by a UND player in a home game in two years. The last time it happened was in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, when Matt Frattin and Jason Gregoire, strangely enough, did it in the same game.

Two of the last four years – 2009-10 and 2011-12 – UND did not record any hat tricks at home.

Both teams will be without key players for this weekend’s series between UND and St. Cloud State.

UND coach Dave Hakstol says that forward Michael Parks is out for this series with a leg injury. Parks has not yet played in a regular-season game after sustaining the injury during an exhibition game.

Hakstol said it may be a couple of weeks before Parks is ready to return.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald