Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bill Mosienko's 21-Second Hat Trick

     The end of the 1951-52 campaign couldn’t come soon enough for the lowly Blackhawks, who were headed for their third consecutive last-place finish and the sixth straight year in which they missed the playoffs. Only 3,254 fans showed up at the old Madison Square Garden expecting to see the New York Rangers and the Hawks go through the motions in the season finale on March 23, 1952.
     The small crowd was treated to one of the most incredible sequences ever witnessed in the NHL. It began at 6:09 of the third period, when Hawks right wing Bill Mosienko took a pass from center Gus Bodnar, faked a shot to the left of goalie Lorne Anderson, then beat Anderson with a low wrist shot to the goalie’s right.
     Mosienko, the Hawks’ leading scorer, raised his stick in the time-honored fashion of celebrating a goal, then skated back to center ice for the ensuing faceoff. Again Bodnar controlled the puck and got it to Mosienko, who sped in on Anderson and fired the puck past him for a second goal in 11 seconds. The time was 6:20.
     Mosienko accepted congratulations from his linemates, then returned to center ice for another faceoff. Bodnar won the draw yet again, and this time he flipped the puck to left wing George Gee. Anderson, a rookie who was understandably rattled by now, committed himself to Gee too soon—and when he did, Gee slid the puck over to Mosienko, who deposited it into a wide-open net.
     The time was 6:30. Mosienko had scored three goals in 21 seconds—a record that will probably never be broken. “Anderson might have stopped Mosienko’s first shot,” according to the New York Times. “But the second and third goals were neatly executed and could have fooled any goalie in the league.” While Mosienko collected the puck for a souvenir, Ranger fans saluted him by showering the ice with their hats. The Times also reported that “the crowd of 3,254 cheered Mosienko with a volume that seemed to come from twice that number when the record-breaking accomplishment was announced.”
     The Hawks outlasted the Rangers 7-6 for just their 17th win of the season, against 44 losses and nine ties. It was typical of Mosienko to provide a bright spot in this dismal era for the Blackhawks, who qualified for the postseason only four times in his brilliant 14-year career. Mosienko was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.

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