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Soccer Inspires Ho-Sang's Hands

The Islanders' prospect draws inspiration from soccer, basketball and fuses it into hockey moves

by Cory Wright @WrightsWay

Joshua Ho-Sang's moves are mesmerizing.

His stick moves so fast it's almost blurry and his skating involves a collection of quick jukes, cuts and fakes. It's common to see him turnstile defensemen and beat goalies top shelf with an emphatic celebration to boot.

Those skills - a combination of a life spent practicing and some natural talent - were on display again on the first two days of Islanders rookie camp

The most surprising part of Ho-Sang's dangles is his inspiration. Reigning NHL MVP Patrick Kane is one inspiration on the ice, but Ho-Sang fuses skills from other sports - mainly soccer and basketball - into his repertoire.

"Most of the skills that I use are coming from soccer," Ho-Sang said. "Watching how those guys implement deception really well, especially because in soccer you just have your feet and a big ball, so to put it through someone's legs is pretty amazing. It's just about body positioning, how you present your shoulders, how you stay square to what you're going to go."

Ho-Sang played soccer throughout school and occasionally kicks the ball around with players from TFC, the Toronto Football Club in the MLS. He said tries to mimic the movements of Ronaldinho - the famous Brazilian footballer who won FIFA Player of Year in 2004.

"I took a lot of the stuff that I use form Ronaldinho," Ho-Sang said. "I like the way he implements skill into his game along with passing. It's figuring out when to drop your shoulder, and when you drop it, drop it like this. I think Ronaldinho is the best at that and guys who are unreal."

Ho-Sang also draws inspiration from NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving, citing his crossover.

"Kyrie Irving has a mean crossover," Ho-Sang said. "He hit the game-winner in the NBA Finals with that exact crossover. Taking that deception, that shoulder drop, it's almost like a misguided presentation."

The Islanders' prospect has a high hockey IQ and has an idea of what move he wants to pull given what side of the ice and angle he's coming in on, information he processes on the fly. He's working less on his breakaway stick handling these days and more on using his hands in more common situations.

"[I'm working on] chipping the puck over guys' sticks, playing the puck off the bounce, using my hands a different way," he said. "Obviously I like stick handling around guys but these guys are so good."

Ho-Sang posted 80+ points for the third straight season and took the Niagara Ice Dogs all the way to the OHL Final, scoring 26 points (6G, 20A) in 17 playoff games. Ho-Sang's junior career is over, so regardless of what happens during rookie and training camp, he'll turn pro, either staying with the Islanders or heading to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

"It's super exciting," Ho-Sang said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time and looking to make an impression and just go from there."

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