If Todd Hosmer is going to carve out a niche like most third-line hockey players do to ensure long-term stability, he has some narrowing down to do.
Hosmer, a Thunder forward in his first season with the team, does a bit of everything. He’s sixth on the team in points, with 11, even though he’s taken the 10th-most shots. He is a playmaker who also finds the net himself, and his six goals rank fourth on the Thunder.
Hosmer, who turns 27 on Sunday, also plays physically and isn’t afraid to fight. Sometimes he brings all of his attributes to the same game, like when he had a goal, an assist and a fight in the Thunder’s win over Rapid City on Dec. 13.
That trio of accomplishments is known as the “Gordie Howe hat trick,” after versatile former NHL star.
“It’s really cool,” Hosmer said. “The cool thing is that it doesn’t go unrecognized, either. Coach (Kevin McClelland) and the guys all said stuff to me after that game. It’s pretty humbling to do all that stuff and it’s pretty rewarding, too. To get a Gordie Howe hat trick, I don’t think that’s happened (to me) before.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Hosmer has done the same things this season as he’s done throughout his three-year career, but he’s doing them on a smaller scale – or a larger one, depending on the perspective.
Hosmer played most of the last two seasons in the SPHL, a lower-level professional league that includes several teams from the former Central Hockey League, where the Thunder played before moving to the ECHL this year.
In the SPHL, Hosmer was a star top-line forward for Mississippi, scoring 85 points over 81 games during the last two seasons. He had a brief ECHL stop last year, but it offered limited indication that his production would translate.
So far this season, Hosmer has shown that he belongs. He scored two goals in Wichita’s first three games and has been a reliable offensive player ever since, posting a minus-1 rating and never going more than four games between points.
“It’s quite noticeable,” Hosmer said of the difference between the SPHL and the ECHL. “The first lines in the SPHL plays pretty good hockey, then it falls off after that. Here, all three lines can play, even the 10th forwards. It’s pretty quick, probably two or three steps quicker.”
Hosmer said he practices fighting during the offseason by working with his dad, a former boxer, on punching and agility drills. It may just be an excuse for Hosmer to participate in another sport.
At SUNY-Potsdam in New York, Hosmer played hockey and lacrosse with an eye on playing professionally in either or both. He chose hockey after two years in college but still follows lacrosse.
Instead of excelling at multiple sports, though, Hosmer has brought a well-rounded game to his first season with the Thunder, dispelling the notion that third-line forwards must find a specialty.
“There’s some guys on this team who are skilled and that’s their main job is to score goals,” he said. “I like hitting and I don’t mind dropping the gloves. The times I get a chance, I’m going to put the puck in the net, too.”
Rapid City at Thunder
When: 5:05 p.m. Sunday
Where: Intrust Bank Arena
Records: Rapid City 8-14-0-2, Thunder 12-10-1-3