KINGSTON, Ont. — Josh Ho-Sang proved his point, three times over in fewer than six minutes, on Monday.
In the summer, of course, the 18-year-old went there when he publicly questioned why Hockey Canada demurred from choosing him for two under-18 tournaments and its summer development camp over a span of 12 months. Those comments have had a certain stickiness, especially in the wake of the New York Islanders' first-round pick's trade from the Windsor Spitfires to the Niagara IceDogs last week. The easy way out, after a three-point effort in Team OHL's 5-1 win over Team Russia in Game 4 of the Subway Super Series, would have been to chalk that up to teenage frustration, or a need to vent. Ho-Sang figures at this point, he should just wear it.
"I said that stuff for a reason, because I believe in myself and I know that I'm capable of doing that stuff on this stage," said Ho-Sang, whose two assists were sandwiched around a penalty-shot goal where he went backhand shelf on Russia's Denis Kostin. "I guess I was putting action to my words.
"I don't know how many Hockey Canada opportunities I'm going to get, so I got to do my best to make 'em count ... Sometimes things just fall in line."
With Team OHL bent on avoiding the embarrassment of being swept by Russia for the second year in a row, Ho-Sang exhibited some jump and flair in the first 20 minutes. The newly minted IceDog fanned on a chance early in the second, but the play resulted in a Russia penalty. Team OHL cashed in on the power play. Minutes later, Ho-Sang used his world-class speed to gain an angle on Vyacheslav Leshchenko, got tripped up and earned a penalty shot. He made Kostin commit and tucked it upstairs to the delight of the crowd of 4,011.
"He's a pretty special player with the puck," the Peterborough Petes' Nick Ritchie said of Ho-Sang. "He can hold on to it and make pretty good plays. He was rewarded tonight."
The IceDogs split their first two games with Ho-Sang on the weekend. In the grand scheme, Ho-Sang is expected to form a power trio with Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Carter Verhaeghe (who had a plethora of chances for Team OHL on Monday) and Arizona Coyotes first-rounder Brendan Perlini, who is close to a return from a broken hand. Perlini, who like Ho-Sang, had more than 30 goals in his sophomore season, should lace up by the end of the month.
"You can see why Verhaeghe's so talented and we're really excited to get Perlini back in the lineup," Ho-Sang said. "I played two games this weekend and had lots of fun. It's really exciting. A new start. They make me feel really welcome and I'm really excited about that."
Meantime, the one big prevailing oversimplification through four games of the Super Series is that Hockey Canada might want to emphasize creativity and speed. The reality of under-20 hockey is that whether it's the NCAA, KHL or other European pro leagues, the rest of the world has pretty hulking defenceman. There is still some high-end skill left in this country, as Monday illustrated.
"Just with the speed we had, it was a little bit of a different lineup than from the first game [Russia's 4-0 win on Thursday]," Ho-Sang said. "We came in with a little bit more knowledge of their team and used it effectively."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.