Former Niagara IceDog finally gets that Maple Leaf on his jersey


Published February 2, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Josh Ho-Sang, a former Niagara IceDog, could be turning heads after being selected to the Canadian Men's Olympic hockey team, playing soon in Beijing. (Photo: by Nick Barden)

Niagara IceDog graduate Josh Ho-Sang finally got that jersey with the maple leaf on it.

It just wasn’t the one he initially expected. When the Toronto Maple Leafs invited Ho-Sang to a professional try-out at training camp back in September, the former New York Islander draft pick was hoping he’d land back in the big leagues after plying his trade overseas.

The Leafs signed him to a one-way contract to the Toronto Marlies, their farm team, but with NHL stars locked out of the Beijing Olympics, which begin in two days, it seems Ho-Sang is about to skate on a big sheet nonetheless.

On January 25, the right winger was named to the Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey team. Turns out the player was destined to have a Maple Leaf on his jersey.

This is a little bigger than a training camp try-out for the 26-year-old who is finally starting to turn heads after a sputtering NHL debut with the Isles in which his character and attitude was often questioned.

To be among those selected means the Canadian coaching staff see something special in him, much the same as the offense-laden Leafs coaching staff did back in September at camp.

“I think all of this (the Olympic recognition) is through the work he has put in,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told the Toronto media. “Combined with, of course, the talent that he has.”

Should Ho-Sang shine at the Olympics, the winger could make the jump to the Leafs as the NHL playoffs loom in a couple of month. If the team signs him at the league minimum ($750,000) as the season ends, they could use him in the post-season without affecting their salary cap.

But if Ho-Sang is thinking that far ahead – and how could he not be – he played those cards close to his chest, talking to the media after his selection.

“My focus right now is the Olympic team,” he said after his Olympic selection. “I think to look forward would be an injustice to myself and the opportunity I have right now.”

“I’m trying everything in my power to stay present and really embrace every single day with this group… because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s fleeting.”

If all goes well – and with his playmaking skills, that is likely – perhaps Ho-Sang will be trading for another Maple Leaf soon enough.

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