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December 20, 2014

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Out of his grandfather’s shadow

During his youth in Winnipeg, Wranglers center Tyler Mosienko became accustomed to sharing his grandfather, hockey legend Bill "Wee Willie" Mosienko, with the public.

They'd grab a sandwich for lunch or visit a mall, and people would swarm Bill to say hello, shake his hand, get an autograph or pose for a photograph.

Bill Mosienko, who converted an NHL-record 21-second hat trick in 1952, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965. An arena in Winnipeg was named for him in 1990.

For as long as Tyler "Mighty Mosie" Mosienko can remember, his grandfather and his last name have been big deals.

"Everyone around Winnipeg knows who he was," Tyler Mosienko says, "and what he did."

A five-time all- star, Bill Mosienko played 14 seasons, from 1942 to 1955, for the Chicago Blackhawks. He was one of the fastest skaters of his era. "He didn't just get lucky," Tyler Mosienko says.

Bill Mosienko, who was 72 when he lost his battle with lymphoma in 1994, also was a gentleman. In two full seasons - 1944-45 and 1947-48 - he had no penalty minutes. He won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1945 for gentlemanly play.

A few years ago, Tyler Mosienko found his grandfather's rookie card on the Internet and bought it for $40. He keeps all his Wee Willie mementos in secure storage in Winnipeg.

"It kind of makes you want to do that yourself," he says. "It's extra motivation."

In only his second season in Las Vegas, Mosienko, 23, is being counted on to be a prominent player for the Wranglers.

His 52 points last season, on 18 goals and 34 assists, are the most of any returnee, and leading comes with his pedigree. Last season, he was just trying to fit in with his new club.

"Now I'll look to help out the new guys," Mosienko says. "That's kind of cool. I want to be a dangerous player, and I like being a leader. I've been a leader all my life."

The Wranglers recorded an ECHL-best 46-12-14 record last season but lost to eventual Kelly Cup champion Idaho in the second round of the playoffs. They open the season tonight in Fresno and return for their home opener Sunday against Stockton.

This Las Vegas team, Mosienko says, is better than last season's. It's quicker and stronger up front, with Justin Donati and the Ferraro twins, former NHLers Chris and Peter.

"The Ferraros are obviously big role models," Mosienko says. "When they get the puck, no one can get it from them. They buzz around out there and they're fun to watch."

Quicker and stronger also describes the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Mosienko, who casts a bit bigger shadow than his grandfather, who zipped around the ice at 5-feet-8, 150 pounds.

"To me, 'Mosie' looks a lot quicker," Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan says. "That's going to be important for him to get to the American Hockey League. He'll use his speed and his smarts."

It's a pivotal season for Mosienko, according to Gulutzan, to prove he can be a dominant player from start to finish.

But three goals in 21 seconds?

Bill Mosienko did that on March 23, 1952, from 6:09 to 6:30 of the third period against the Rangers in New York. The Blackhawks eked out a 7-6 victory.

Tyler Mosienko hasn't come close to matching his grandfather's feat.

"I think I had three goals in 12 minutes once, when I scored a ton of goals when I was 5 or 6," he says. "I don't think that record will ever be beat."

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