Hosmer feels at home with RiverKings

“A text of ‘REALLY’ with about 50 exclamation and question marks.”

That was what RiverKings forward Todd Hosmer received from his girlfriend when he told her there might be a trade that sent him back to the team where he started his professional hockey career. Later that day, he got another text, this one from RiverKings’ Head Coach Derek Landmesser.

“Welcome back, ‘Hos’.” He was officially coming back to Southaven.

Southaven is a special place for Hosmer. Not only was it Southaven where he began his professional career with 34 points (15G, 19A) in 41 games. It’s not just the place where he scored 37 goals in 40 games and earned first-team All-SPHL honors. It’s about more than on-ice success.

“It’s my home away from home,” Hosmer said. “My family has been down here and they love it. My girlfriend loves it and everyone is so friendly. It’s really a great atmosphere and I’m just blessed to be back.”

Following a four-year collegiate career, Hosmer broke in with the RiverKings in 2012 and spent two seasons in the SPHL with a brief stint in the middle of the 2013-14 campaign with ECHL Greenville. The following season, Hosmer earned a tryout with ECHL Wichita. In the SPHL, coaches and teammates looked to him for offense, but in the ECHL, he had to develop a more complete game.

“When I got to Wichita, I was a second or third line guy and I just had to work,” he explained. “Our coach didn’t care if you had skill or if you were drafted to the NHL. Everyone was battling for a spot and every day you’re under a microscope. If you weren’t working hard in practice, there are three coaches and people upstairs watching and you heard about it. Then you were sitting in the stands on game night.”

In his first full-season in the ECHL, his hard work paid off. Hosmer posted 43 points in 71 games, ranking him fourth on the team in scoring. But just seven games into the 2015-16 campaign, Hosmer found himself on the waiver wire and prepared to rejoin the SPHL after a yearlong hiatus.

“As soon as I cleared waivers, my phone went pretty crazy,” Hosmer said, chuckling. “I wanted to come back to Mississippi, but there’s the business aspect.”

So Hosmer tried his luck in Knoxville. He started slowly, with points in just two of his first four games. But then he went on an eight-game point streak and started to find his stride. Unfortunately, the Ice Bears weren’t. During Hosmer’s point streak, the Ice Bears were 3-5-0, before losing their next three games. In the three games leading up to the trade, Hosmer was pointless. His on-ice struggles were taking a toll.

“I was looked upon to put the puck in the back of the net,” Hosmer said. “When I didn’t, it felt like all eyes on me. ‘Why aren’t you scoring? Why aren’t we winning?’”

In 27 games with the Ice Bears, Hosmer had 20 points, a far cry from the nearly 1.5 points-per-game he netted as a second-year forward with the RiverKings. The team was struggling. He was struggling. Then he got the call from Ice Bears’ Head Coach Mike Craigen. Then the text from Landmesser. Then everything changed.

A change of scenery can do a lot to jumpstart success. In Knoxville, Hosmer joined a team trying to dig themselves out of the bottom of the Southern Professional Hockey League standings. In Mississippi, he joined a team in the top four and one positioned well going into the second half of the schedule. It had a strong impact on the fourth-year player.

“I knew right away that they had a winning mindset,” Hosmer said of his first interactions with his new teammates. “It’s not just the winning mindset, but a hardworking mentality. We’re striving for a championship here and that feeds that mindset in the rink. We’re playing good team hockey, too. You can’t look at one guy and single him out. We’re playing good as a team from Sheehan right on out.”

That mindset and mentality has elevated Hosmer’s game in the brief time he has spent with the RiverKings this season. In five games in Mississippi, Hosmer has eight points (3G, 5A).

“It’s a confidence and a comfort thing,” Hosmer said of his recent success. “I know what to expect from ‘Mess’ and I know what he expects from me. I know if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do, he’s going to let me know, but at the same time he’s going to do it in a way with a positive outcome and keep my confidence going.”

So far, the results are there, not just for Hosmer, but the entire team. In the five games leading up to Hosmer’s acquisition, the team was 1-2-2. In the five games after they’re 5-0-0. With the on and off-ice success and level of comfort, there’s no surprise that when asked if he had anything else he wanted to add, Hosmer had just one thing to say:

“I’m just really excited to be back.”

RiverKings forward Todd Hosmer celebrates his goal during the RiverKings 4-3 victory over Huntsville on February 6, 2016. Hosmer has eight points in his first five games with the RiverKings this season since being reacquired from Knoxville. © Mark Mathews

Posted by David Schmoll at 9:36 AM

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PEO y-Peoria 56 38 13 5 81
MAC x-Macon 56 33 16 7 73
PEN x-Pensacola 56 33 16 7 73
HUN x-Huntsville 56 30 16 10 70
KNX x-Knoxville 56 30 20 6 66
EVV x-Evansville 56 27 20 9 63
MRK x-RiverKings 56 29 25 2 60
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Updated: April 8, 2018

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