November 19, 2016

Second Best: Jean Beliveau's 44 Second Hat Trick

Chicago’s Bill Mosienko famously holds the record for the fastest hat trick in NHL history. On March 23, 1952 "Wee Willie" scored three goals in just 21 seconds against the New York Rangers. Lorne Anderson was the unfortunate goaltender. It just his third NHL game. It was also his last.

But who has the second fastest hat trick in NHL history?

On November 5th, 1954 Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens lit up Boston Bruins goaltender Terry Sawchuk for three goals in 44 seconds. All three goals came on the same power play.

Beliveau would actually score a total of four goals that night - his first of three four goal performances - but it was his single-PP hat trick that changed hockey history.

At that time a penalized player served the entire term of his infraction. Two minutes for tripping meant you spent the entire two minutes in the penalty box and your team was short handed for the entire duration, too. If a team scored with the man-advantage they would continue on the power play for the full two minutes.

But Beliveau's Canadiens team was just too good. They had Beliveau, Rocket Richard and Bert Olmstead up front with Doug Harvey and Boom Boom Geoffrion manning the points. They destroyed teams on the power play, burying teams in no time to make for some pretty lopsided and non-competitive games. 

So the NHL tried disabling that vaunted power play by releasing a player from a minor penalty should the other team score on the man advantage. The new rule went into effect the following season, and was passed by the teams by a vote of 5-1.

Of course, Montreal was the only team to oppose the motion, and with some merit. In his book The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory, author D'Arcy Jenish quotes Habs general manager at the time Frank Selke saying . . . 

“You might outvote me on that one. But you’ll never convince me of its justice.In all the years of Detroit’s dominance and their almighty power play, there was no suggestion of such a change. Now Canadiens have finally built one and you want to introduce a rule to weaken it. Go get a power play of your own.”

Of course the rule continues to stand to this day. Should the NHL return to a full 2 minute power play advantage? Or should the penalized player be ineligible to play for the full 2 minutes, even if the man advantage concludes in the event of a goal?
Not Quite As Famous Record - When Bill Mosienko set the NHL record with 3 goals in 21 seconds, center Gus Bodnar also set a much less celebrated record. He assisted on all three of Mosienko's tallies, setting the standard for the fastest three assists.
Likewise, Bert Olmstead assisted on all three of Beliveau's markers in 44 seconds, setting the second best record for assists.
Final Score: Beliveau may have scored four goals that night, but no other Habs would. The final score was 4-2 for Montreal. 
The Previous Record - Obviously Beliveau's hat trick came a couple of years after Mosienko had already set the standard. So who's record did Mosienko beat?
The answer is Detroit's Carl Liscombe, who scored 3 goals in 1:52 against Chicago on March 13th, 1938. 
Three Goals In 20 Seconds! - While Mosienko may hold the individual record, one team actually tallied three goals in 20 seconds once.
On February 25th, 1971 Boston's Johnny Bucyk, Ed Westfall and Ted Green combined for three goals in 20 seconds en route to an 8-3 victory over Vancouver.
Two teams have combined for three goals even faster! On February 10th, 1983 the Minnesota North Stars and New York Rangers combined for three goals in 15 seconds! On two other occasions teams combined for goals in 18 seconds!
Bowled Over - When Bill Mosienko retired he returned to Winnipeg and opened up a number of "Billy Mosienko Bowling Lanes." One remains in business complete with this mural on the side of the building.

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