Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Bill Mosienko - The Pinnacle
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Mosienko, Smith, and Bentley set an NHL record with 219 points
Mosienko was teamed on a line with Clint Smith and Doug Bentley in 1943-44 and this threesome went on to set an NHL record of amassing 219 points. (Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
The careers of most Hall of Famers are defined by a series of outstanding games spread across many seasons. But while Bill Mosienko enjoyed a superlative career, he has always been defined by a game played on March 23, 1952, clearly the pinnacle of his hockey career.

March 23, 1952 saw the last-place Chicago Black Hawks challenge the fifth-place New York Rangers in a meaningless contest played at Madison Square Garden. Thousands of fans showed up at the rink disguised as empty seats.

With both Charlie Rayner and Emile Francis injured, the Rangers had no qualms about starting netminder Lorne Anderson, a veteran of two NHL games, who had been summoned from the Rovers, New York's Eastern Hockey League affiliate. Meanwhile, the woeful Hawks boasted right winger Bill Mosienko, who entered the game with 28 goals.

Forty-four seconds into the game, Chicago scored, and it looked like a rout may be at hand, but Anderson bricked up the net with his goaltending and left the Hawks shaking their heads. Going into the third period, the Rangers were up 6-2. But then, it all came crashing down.

Mosienko scored 3 goals in 21 seconds setting a new record
Bill Mosienko showing off the three pucks and stick he used to score three goals in 21 seconds on March 23, 1952 against the New York Rangers. (HHOF)
Gus Bodnar, the Chicago centre, took the faceoff and got the puck to Mosienko at centre ice. "When Bodnar got me the puck, I took off and went in around (All-Star defenceman Hy) Buller," Mosienko told Stan Fischler in 'Hockey's 100.' "That left me one on one with the goalie. I got off a low wrist shot, along the ice, and it went in on the right side."

Mosienko's 29th goal came at 6:09 of the third period. The Hawks' line stayed on the ice. Bodnar won the draw again and again put the puck onto Mosienko's stick. The winger eluded Hy Buller again and was in alone on goaltender Lorne Anderson. "I had him all to myself," smiled Mosienko. "I figured since I'd been able to beat him on the right side, his glove hand, I'd try it again. So, just like the first time, I slid the puck along the ice. I don't think Anderson was ready for the quick shot and it got by him." The goal, Mosienko's 30th, came at 6:20; just 11 seconds after the previous goal.

The hot Hawks line stayed on the ice again. And this time, Gus Bodnar won the faceoff but this time, the puck went left to George Gee, Chicago's other winger on that line. Gee carried the puck into the Rangers' zone as Mosienko darted forwards the net. "George saw me cutting over the (blue)line and laid a perfect pass on my stick," recalled Mosienko. "Buller was waiting for me, but like the first two times, I cut around him and went in on Anderson. He'd been burned twice on the right side. This time, he moved to the right, figuring I'd try it again. Instead, I pulled him out of the net to the left and then put one over him right into the top right-hand corner."

Bill Mosienko was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965
Bill Mosienko was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965. Here he accepts Hall of Fame crest from Clarence Campbell. (Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
The three goals for Bill Mosienko were scored within 21 seconds, disintegrating the previous record of three goals in a minute, 52 seconds, set by Detroit's Carl Liscombe in 1938. Curiously, Mosienko almost had a fourth! The line remained on the ice, and again, Chicago attacked with Mosienko finding himself in alone on beleaguered Lorne Anderson yet again. "I faked Anderson out of position. I actually had an open net to hit but I missed the far post by a matter of inches." The Hawks' coach, Ebbie Goodfellow, summoned Mosienko to the bench, saying, "Bill, get off the ice. You're in a slump!"

In the next day's edition of the New York Times, a writer suggested that "Anderson might have stopped Mosienko on the Hawk star's first shot, an open thrust from the center alley, but the second and third shots were neatly executed and could have fooled any goalie in the league."

Bill Mosienko set the mark for the fastest three goals in a game, a record that stands to this day. "It was quite an accomplishment," he said. "After I scored the third goal, Jim Peters skated up to me and told me to keep the puck because I had set a new record. I was very happy and proud."

That season, he finished with 31 goals, his second-best single season total, and second in the NHL that season. And while Bill finished seventh in league scoring, the Black Hawks finished last; 16 points behind fifth place New York. Yet, March 23, 1952 will always be regarded as the high point of a dreadful season for Chicago, and the pinnacle of Bill Mosienko's career.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.