A small group (3,254) of hockey regulars wandered into New York's Madison Square Garden on March 23, 1952, to watch the fifth-place Rangers play the last-place Chicago Black Hawks. It was a rainy, windy night and beyond the prospect of fights between the players or, perhaps a Ranger victory, the few fans didn't expect much in the way of excitement. The game was the last one of the regular season, and both teams had long since been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But on that dismal night nine years ago, a record was made—a record that probably will never be broken. Bill Mosienko, Chicago's veteran right-winger, scored three goals in the unbelievably short span of 21 seconds.
The game itself developed as a routine affair. The Rangers built up to a 5-2 lead over the inept Black Hawks by the end of the second period. And when New York's Ed Slowinski got his third goal of the night early in the third period, some of the spectators in the nearly empty stands began to leave.
Suddenly, Gus Bodnar, the Chicago center, picked up a loose puck at center ice and passed it to Mosienko, who was straddling the Ranger blue line. Only Ranger Defenseman Hy Buller was between Mosienko and the goal. Buller, however, was off balance just long enough for Mosienko to skate around him. He cut straight in at Ranger Goalie Lorne Anderson, faked to the left and sent the puck flat along the ice into the right side of the cage. The public address system blared out: "Chicago goal by Bill Mosienko, assisted by Gus Bodnar. Time: 6:09."
A few seconds later Bodnar got control of the puck on the ensuing face-off at center ice and again spotted Mosienko on the Ranger blue line. Slipping backward a bit, Mosienko took Bodnar's pass and skated through the Ranger defense. He slammed the puck along the ice into the right side of the cage. Time: 6:20.
"I'm sure Anderson was expecting high shots," recalled Mosienko recently. "Twice before during the game he had stopped high ones and I thought that he'd fall for the low shot. He did—a lucky thing for me."
Mosienko skated into the goal mouth, picked up the puck and took it back to the Chicago bench. "I dug that puck out because it was my 30th goal of the season," said Mosienko. "I guess some of the fans thought it was pretty funny when I got the puck. A bunch of them hooted and laughed."
Chicago Coach Ebbie Goodfellow motioned Mosienko's line to stay on the ice, and, as the remaining spectators stamped their feet in appreciation of Mosienko's two quick goals, the referee dropped the puck. Again Bodnar won the face-off. He slapped the puck to Left Wing George Gee, who relayed it to Mosienko near the Ranger blue line. Mosienko skated halfway in toward the goal, then slowed down. His hesitation drew Anderson out of the nets, and Mosienko lifted the puck high into the right side of the goal. ("I figured Anderson would be looking for another low shot.") Time: 6:30.
For a second, Madison Square Garden was quiet. Then, as Mosienko skated to the Chicago bench, the stunned crowd rose as one and burst into applause. "I wasn't quite sure what to do," said Mosienko, "until one of our forwards, Jimmy Peters, told me to get the puck. 'That's a record, Mosie,' he kept yelling."
The rest of the game was anti-climactic, even though the Black Hawks later tied the score and, with only 38 seconds left, won on Sid Finney's goal. It was a dramatic finish, but only Mosienko's record performance would be remembered.