Despite famous genes, little centre has no shot at NHL

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

A wandering mind wondered, during the relentless course of London Knights' 4-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets last night, what might have been had a guy like Tyler Mosienko enjoyed a tad more tonnage and altitude.

He certainly has the genes and we might one day have heard more of the industrious little Kelowna centre had conditions remained the same as they were when his Hall of Fame grandfather lit up the National Hockey League.

In today's hockey, forget it. Guys a millimetre shy of six feet and even five kilograms below 200 pounds -- if we can mix measurements -- might get into the show as a stickboy but rarely as a player.

When you're five-foot-eight and 175 pounds, you don't even get thanked for coming.

Still, his name is almost assured to be part of the NHL in perpetuity and he's proud of it.

Mosienko's grandfather, Billy Mosienko, established one of those sports records that is all but unassailable by scoring three goals in 21 seconds for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1952.

All the stars aligned on that final night of the season against the New York Rangers. Mosienko was very quick, a natural scorer and the Hawks won the faceoffs to make it possible.

Records are made to be broken, but that one stands alongside 87th-round knockouts in boxing championship bouts -- impossible in 12-round title fights today.

His grandfather died when Tyler was 10, but he got a chance to talk to him about it. The reminders are constant, but he didn't mind chatting about it again.

"Not at all, it's something we're all pretty proud of," the personable player said. "It's fun to talk about it.

"Being from Winnipeg, I grew up with it and people like to talk hockey and bring it up all the time. I love the game and that's part of it. He was an awesome grandfather."

Even in Kelowna, he receives photos of his grandfather and accounts of what has to rate as the most impregnable record in sports. The most popular photo shows a beaming Billy holding a troika of pucks.

Tyler is aware his grandfather's line -- with the Bentley brothers, Max and Doug -- was known as the Pony Line, the NHL's top-scoring line one season and always near the top. An all-star, Mosienko wound up being one of the few players to score more than 250 goals during his era, 1941-42 through 1954-55.

When he retired, he opened Billy Mosienko Lanes in Winnipeg, a bowling alley still operated by Tyler's father.

While modern hockey precludes much potential to better the rat-a-tat hat trick of Billy Mosienko, it also pretty well rules out a guy of Tyler Mosienko's stature at the NHL level. After this third trip to the Memorial Cup, he'll consider his future over the summer.

It might involve university hockey in the west. He isn't saying, but the University of Alberta and the University of Manitoba have been mentioned.

It won't be the NHL for one of the most popular players in Kelowna history during his five years there. That falls to guys such as London's Corey Perry, who stands six-feet-three and weighs 200 pounds.

They're the guys whose long reach coupled with size and smarts get to score the big goals, such as the two each Perry and six-foot-three, 195-pound Drew Larman blasted last night for London. Guys like Mosienko, for all their effort and peskiness, get to seize their moment in junior hockey and move on.

So, it appears, do teams such as Kelowna, whose efforts on a night after an overtime session against the Ottawa 67's, which amounted to more than a game and a half, fell short.

A modern Billy Mosienko would have made a vast difference, even if he spread his famous hat trick over three periods.


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