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Joshua Ho-Sang ready for new beginning with Islanders

Prospect expected to make NHL debut at Stars on Thursday

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- The smile on Joshua Ho-Sang's face at the New York Islanders' practice facility Tuesday was as wide as Long Island. 

After a tumultuous start with the organization that was willing to take a risk and select him with the No. 28 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, Ho-Sang is finally where he wants to be and is expected to make his NHL debut when the Islanders continue their nine-game road trip at the Dallas Stars on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-SW, MSG+2, NHL.TV). 

"I'm just super excited," said Ho-Sang, who got the call from Islanders coach Doug Weight that he was being recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey on Monday and immediately drove down to Long Island. "I'm just going to take it and run with it. I've been waiting for this moment my whole life. Getting the call-up is one thing, but playing a good game is another."

Ho-Sang's first NHL training camp in the fall of 2014 lasted one day; he overslept on the first day and was sent back to Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League. It's been a long road to get to the NHL since then, but he arrives after scoring 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in his past 16 games for Bridgeport, which has won 16 of its past 19. He has 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) in 48 AHL games this season.

It's a positive change for Ho-Sang, who frequently was a healthy scratch earlier in the season by Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson.

"I don't really have any comment about that," Ho-Sang said. "It is what it is. I'm just happy to be here right now.

"I'm excited with the changes that I've made to get here on a personal level. I'm not really going to discuss all those, but I'm a better person now than I was three years ago, and I think that everything happens for a reason. It's helped me change a lot and make a lot of changes in my lifestyle, which have been beneficial."

Weight said Ho-Sang will play a "top-six, top-nine role for sure" as long as he's with New York. How long Ho-Sang stays in the League is ultimately up to him.

"He's been a pro now, he's got great leadership down there as far as on the ice, he's got great coaching. They've been really forthcoming with him and challenged him, and he's answered the bell," Weight said. "He's played well. He's done what he does well well, and he's worked on everything. He's had a great attitude in the last five weeks and the team's responded because of it. He's been a big part of that success. We've got a lot of guys that are going to get healthy, but he's here to play hockey and he's done it his whole life. We've got a couple of days here to get him into it.

"Nothing's ever behind you, because people will always talk about it, whether it's an organization or your personal life. Just like our team as far as standings or where we sit as a team, we're going to face it head-on.

"I've talked to Josh already about what's expected of him. Those things don't just go away, so we're going to talk to him about them and make sure he's ready to be a pro up here because nothing else is going to be tolerated. He's got a great attitude. He's a good kid and he's a good player."

Ho-Sang said he was unsure how many friends and family members will be attendance at American Airlines Center on Thursday -- "I want to make sure I'm in the lineup first," he said. Nonetheless, he's eager to help the Islanders in the push for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. New York (29-22-10) is one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.

"The guys are really welcoming, which is always a pleasure," Ho-Sang said. "I'm really excited."

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