Former Isles first-round pick Joshua Ho-Sang has always been a confident hockey player. He’s confident in his skills, which are abundant, and confident in his future in the NHL. While some people in the conservative world of hockey find the Thornhill, Ontario, native brash or cocky, Ho-Sang uses his self-confidence as a way to improve his game via hard work and hustle on and off the ice.
So far, Ho-Sang has enjoyed his second prospects camp with the Islanders. “I think I worked hard and left it all on the ice. That’s what everybody tries to do in these camps,” Ho-Sang said. “You try to show the coaches what you’ve got, the skills you possess and the changes you’re trying to make in your game. They’re just looking for improvements, looking to get better and better and better.”
Getting better is what this camp and the offseason are all about for Ho-Sang. When asked what areas of his game he is working on this summer, he was straightforward about where he wants to improve. “My defense has never been perfect and I know that,” Ho-Sang said. “For me it’s about becoming stronger and knowing my position and to be comfortable with the Islanders’ system so when I come back to camp, I can hit the ground running and I’m not a step behind. A lot of the guys in camp have been playing in that system for years, so I have a lot of catching up to do.”
He enjoyed the scrimmage at the Islanders new home, the Barclay’s Center where he showed the coaches and fans some of his pinpoint passing and on-ice vision that have made scouts wonder at his offensive ability. “I was happy with the game, but we lost,” Ho-Sang said. “It was a fun experience playing at the Barclay’s Center, but that’s kind of in the past now. We have a game on Saturday that I’m looking forward to. For me, it’s just pushing and pushing until I’m in that lineup. If I’m in the lineup, that’s great and I’ll just keep working from there.”
That work paid off last season. Ho-Sang split time between the Windsor Spitfires and the Niagara IceDogs and finished the season with 17 goals and 81 points in 60 games. He added a goal and 15 assists in 11 playoff games with Niagara.
Although he has one more year of experience under his belt, Ho-Sang said his goals haven’t changed. “Last year I wanted to make the team, this year I want to make the team and I think that’s going to be the same way once I’m on the team,” Ho-Sang explained. “Then I want to be one of the best players on the team and it goes from there. You’ve got to keep setting goals and you’ve got to keep moving forward as a person just in general.”
Ho-Sang was honest about what his confidence means to him. “I think it’s important to be confident to help you do what you’ve been doing your whole life, you’re not scared, you try to take away that timid side of yourself and try to just overcome the fears,” Ho-Sang said. “Obviously it’s a little overwhelming when you step onto the ice with John Tavares for the first time. When you look across the ice and you see Johnny Boychuk, those are pretty crazy experiences but you’ve got to take that in stride and you’ve got to keep pushing forward.”
Ho-Sang also wants to show the Islanders’ organization that he has what they are looking for. “They just encouraged me to keep working hard. The common thing in the Islanders’ organization is how bad do you want it,” he said. “They say that to everyone that comes through. That’s just a matter of character. What are you willing to do off the ice, what are you willing to do on the ice. They address that to everyone.”
While he is still probably a year or two away from reaching the NHL, Ho-Sang’s talent was clearly on display at the Blue and White Scrimmage and throughout mini-camp. If he continuous to work hard at improving his game and getting stronger, he should have a bright NHL future.