‘Immature’ Josh Ho-Sang hits AHL rock bottom

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Josh Ho-Sang was one of the last five players on the ice Wednesday for AHL Bridgeport’s morning skate at Webster Bank Arena.

He was firing slap shots from the blue line in between sprints as he put in extra work long after most of his teammates had skated off to the locker room to prepare for that night’s game against Hartford.

There was no game for Ho-Sang to save his legs for.

For the first time this AHL season — not including the day off he got on Dec. 17 that would have been his fifth game in five days — the mercurial winger was scratched.

“When you start the year in the NHL and then get scratched in the AHL in the same year, it’s kind of … it’s kind of mentally tough,” Ho-Sang told The Post after coming off the ice.

This season has been a lesson in how to handle all of that for the Islanders’ 2014 first-round draft pick.

Ho-Sang will turn 22 this month and has flashed his potential in 43 NHL games (with six goals and 16 assists) over the past two seasons.

He has the skill and the speed to fly around the ice, but the one thing he hasn’t been able to chase down is consistency.

“I don’t think anybody can break my confidence,” he said. “But it’s definitely put in a place where it’s not very good. There’s certain things I can do on the ice to remind myself of what I am and who I am. But it’s just tough when you have people getting on you and sometimes when everyone’s talking to you about the negative, you may look at yourself negatively.”

While bouncing around from the NHL to AHL and first line to fourth line — he’s played with eight different line combinations in 15 games with the Sound Tigers — Ho-Sang’s search continues for the fine line between unleashing his talent and playing simple.

For Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson, the goal is simplifying the game: making better decisions with the puck and playing better away from it.

He sees the potential in Ho-Sang and the progress he has made, but also knows there’s plenty of room and time left to grow — only five players on Bridgeport’s roster Wednesday were younger than Ho-Sang.

“He’s a baby,” Thompson said. “He’s a baby, he’s immature and he’s got a lot of growing to do. I’m excited. The upside of him is outstanding. He worked hard today, he’s been working really hard. We all make mistakes, we all have bad games. It’s how do we respond from those and what do we learn from them? Every piece of this season for Josh, with us, is a development piece.

“It’s just going to be a longer process with some people.”

Ho-Sang acknowledged he’s still young, but refused to use that as an excuse or a reason to stay patient.

“Yeah, I’m only young, but I’m burning years off my NHL career. It sucks,” he said. “You want to be up top. For me, I didn’t look at it this way until this year. I was looking forward to hopefully my first [full] NHL season.”

Ho-Sang is no stranger to healthy scratches in the AHL — he went through them last season before it all clicked and resulted in his first promotion to the NHL.

The Islanders are 24-15-4 with Ho-Sang in their lineup, but he hasn’t been able to stick.

“I enjoy playing up there and I find that when I’m up there, I’ve had quite a bit of success,” Ho-Sang said. “I think I’ve had more success up there than hardship. But they want what they want.”

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