Of the 22 prospects on the ice at NYCB Live, aka the Nassau Coliseum, on Tuesday there couldn’t have been many who knew much about the place or had been in it often.
Josh Ho-Sang was probably most familiar. And not in a good way. After oversleeping through the first on-ice session of the 2015-16 training camp, Islanders GM Garth Snow sent Ho-Sang back to his Canadian junior team — but not before a full morning of running the stairs at the then-empty Coliseum as punishment.
“I’m just glad they took the stairs out,” Ho-Sang said with a laugh. “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Ho-Sang is one of the most intriguing Islanders as the team gets set to open training camp on Thursday with physical exams and off-ice activities, followed by the first on-ice work Friday and Sunday’s preseason game at the old Coliseum against the Flyers.
The 21-year-old Ho-Sang had some good moments in his 21-game Isles stint last season. That memory of the Coliseum, though, is a reminder that he is still a young man with a long way to go in his pro career.
He had four goals and six assists in those 21 games after going 10-26-36 in 50 games with Bridgeport. A spot on Doug Weight’s roster seems assured, but Ho-Sang is taking nothing for granted.
“Just excited to take a crack at the lineup,” he said. “Nothing is set in stone in terms of making the roster or where you are on the roster. A lot of that came come from having a good camp. Coaches want to win early in the season and that’s a very important thing. We missed by one point last season and if you add two wins early in the year, that’s a playoff spot. So I think that’s going to be a big focus. Having a good start is crucial and you want to be a part of that, someone who makes the coach confident that you’ll help.”
With Jordan Eberle in the fold, Ho-Sang would seem likely to fill a second-line right wing spot, which could help get him some favorable matchups against opposing defensemen who’ll be focusing on Eberle and John Tavares. Ho-Sang, an eager watcher of the NHL, has been focusing on Eberle, too.
“I’ve seen him around the rink, been watching him from afar like a creepy little kid, but being able to watch him on the ice, the way he moves is exceptional,” Ho-Sang said. “I’m excited to pick his brain, learn from him and learn how to be more effective.”
The Isles prospects have been in town for a week, capping their camp with a scrimmage against the Flyers prospects in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. The real fun for Ho-Sang begins on Friday, with the possibility of getting on the Coliseum ice Sunday.
“It’s a really big deal for the fans, what this building represents — it’s glory for them,” he said. “I’m hoping wherever we end up, we can bring that back. I’ve heard a lot about this place from the fans, they go on about it whenever I talk to them. I wish I could’ve seen it in its prime. Hopefully Sunday is a little bit of a taste.”