The NHL season may be well under way, but Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata has made sure that the hockey state's only hat tricks have not come on ice.
The 27-year-old back ran for three touchdowns during the 29-26 win over the Washington Redskins, becoming the first player in NFL history to reach nine career rushing touchdowns on the strength of three separate three-TD performances, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).
Asiata's odd path to nine career rushing touchdowns seems like the type of unusual feat that will never be matched, as three-score performances are rare for even the best of running backs.
While far removed from that group of elite runners, Asiata has at least shown the ability to score from close, as all nine of his rushing touchdowns have covered seven yards or fewer, with five coming from exactly one yard out.
It started last season in Week 16, when Asiata managed rushing touchdowns of one, one and five yards in a 48-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, despite gaining just 51 yards on 30 carries.
With a then-injured Adrian Peterson seemingly entrenched as the franchise running back, Asiata's performance appeared to be a statistical oddity that he would never again match.
But, following Peterson's ongoing legal issues and presence on the commissioner's exempt list, the Minnesota backfield has been turned over to Asiata and rookie Jerick McKinnon since Week 2.
While McKinnon has stood out as the more dangerous runner by averaging 5.0 yards per carry (YPC), Asiata and his humble 3.3 YPC have accounted for all six of the duo's rushing touchdowns, with another score through the air.
The second of Asiata's hat tricks came in a 41-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, meaning the Vikings are unsurprisingly a perfect 3-0 in said games.