Three series sweeps. Three players. Three hat tricks.
People often theorize that things happen in threes. The No. 1 Wisconsin women's hockey team's recent success, including the team's scoring pattern, fits right into this concept.
The Badgers have played three series in this young 2010-11 season, sweeping all three opponents - Rensselaer Polytechnic, Bemidji State and Ohio State - at the Kohl Center. While outscoring the opposition 33-8, nine different Badgers scored goals in the first six games of the season.
This is where the pattern of threes really comes into play.
In all three of the series, a different Badger skater recorded a hat trick - three goals in one game. Juniors Hilary Knight and Carolyne Prevost join sophomore Brianna Decker in netting hat tricks for UW this season.
Knight recorded her second natural hat trick as a Badger and her third career hat trick at UW in Wisconsin's 6-0 win over RPI (Oct. 2). The Sun Valley, Idaho, native scored just 33 seconds into the game, netting the eventual game-winning goal. Knight notched her second goal of the night at the 7:48 mark of the first period and completed the natural hat trick at the 13:08 mark of the second period.
The next weekend, Prevost put together a three-goal performance in the team's 7-1 victory over Bemidji State (Oct. 8).
Prevost's hat trick included a shorthanded game-winning goal and a power play goal. Her first goal of the night gave Wisconsin a 2-1 lead when she beat Bemidji State goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova five-hole on a shorthanded goal at the 9:18 mark of the second period. Less than six minutes later, with UW on the power play, Prevost tallied her second-straight goal. She netted her third goal with just 50 seconds remaining in the game, completing her second career hat trick as a Badger.
Decker rounded out the hat-trick-scoring trio with her second career three-goal effort in Wisconsin's 6-5 overtime win over Ohio State (Oct. 22) last weekend.
Decker's third goal was the game-winner in overtime to seal the victory after the Badgers fought back from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 deficits. The Dousman, Wis., native netted three of Wisconsin's final four goals in the six-goal game. She tallied her first goal on an unassisted effort at the 5:40 mark of the third period. Decker then scored her second-straight goal to tie the game at 4-4 midway through the frame before completing her hat trick and sealing the victory for the Badgers 2:08 into overtime.
The trio has combined for 18 goals, including the three hat tricks, in six games to average ... you guessed it. 3.00 goals per game.
The one part of the theory of threes that doesn't fit into the Badgers' equation is that the theory often refers to bad things happening in threes. Goals, hat tricks and series sweeps are certainly not bad things as far as the Badgers are concerned, but Wisconsin's opponents might be able to see the negative side of UW's three for all.