Former Blackhawk of the Week: Bill Mosienko

Before 17 Seconds, there were Mosienko’s 21 seconds.

This week, let’s leave the current state of affairs in the Chicago Blackhawks in the dust and head back in time. Way back: just before World War II, even, when the Hawks discovered an 18-year-old hockey player in Winnipeg who looked like he could handle the puck quite well: Bill Mosienko.

One of 14 children, Mosienko started playing hockey at the age of 10 and by the age of 20, he was a member of the Blackhawks, brought up to the parent club in 1942 to replace players who were sent to fight in World War II. He played 12 games in the 1941-42 season, but was limited by travel restrictions during war in the 1942-43 season. He played just two games: both in Toronto.

His numbers took off in the 1943-44 season, scoring a career-high 70 points. He backed that up with a 54-point season in 1944-45 without taking a single penalty: earning a Lady Byng Trophy along with the first of his five All-Star nominations.

The next season saw the formation of the “Pony Line,” with Mosienko skating next to siblings Max and Doug Bentley, forming an undersized, yet fast and skilled line that became one the NHL’s most exciting groupings. I guess that tradition goes back quite some time for the Blackhawks, doesn’t it? That’s the Pony Line in the photo below, with Mosienko in the middle.

Mosienko’s signature moment came in the regular season finale of the 1951-52 season. Playing against the New York Rangers, Mosienko scored an incredible three goals in 21 seconds, still the fastest hat trick in NHL history. Gus Bodnar was Mosienko’s linemate for that game and he assisted on all three of those goals. And Mosienko nearly added a fourth goal just 45 seconds later, but that shot hit off the post.

Mosienko’s hat trick helped turn a 6-2 Hawks’ deficit into a 7-6 Hawks victory at Madison Square Garden.

His NHL career ended in 1955, although Mosienko then spent four seasons playing with his hometown Winnipeg Warriors of the Western Hockey League. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965 and remains No. 10 in Blackhawks’ history with 258 goals.

He remained in Winnipeg for the rest of his life, dying of cancer in 1994 at the age of 72..