These days, the Moose can't help but smile.
A lot has changed for Calgary Hitmen rookie Brodie (Moose) Dupont in the six months since he rolled into town -- a wide-eyed youngster ready for training camp.
Back then, Dupont was one of the quieter freshmen, content to keep his head down, practise hard and accept whatever limited ice time he got from co-coach Kelly Kisio.
Looking back, Dupont grins when talking about how he's progressed since September.
"When I got here, I was a little gun-shy with everything I was doing," said Dupont yesterday as he leaned against the wall outside the Hitmen's dressing room at the Saddledome.
"I wasn't playing with any confidence. I wasn't getting as much ice time until now, where I've earned more ice time through hard work and stuff. I've always worked hard but I've learned how to find the holes to score goals. So I've potted a few, got some assists here and there, then my confidence started going up."
With Calgary's final two regular-season games coming up this weekend, starting tomorrow night in Lethbridge (7 p.m., FAN 960), the St. Lazare, Man., product has put together a decent freshman campaign.
He's dressed for 68 of Calgary's 70 contests, potting 13 goals with 11 assists, playing for the most part on a line with Riley Merkley and Steve Covington.
Dupont, who toiled with Swan Valley of the MJHL last season, can't wait for the start of playoffs so he can witness first-hand the fervour of the Calgary fans.
"My billet told me about Game 7 of the conference final in 2000 against the Kootenay Ice. Calgary ended up losing but he said it was as loud, if not louder than the Flames' playoff run last year," said Dupont, who turned 18 last month.
"Which is kind of cool and with no NHL, it's a perfect time for us to make a run at the memorial Cup, so I'm looking forward to it."
As for the Hitmen's playoff outlook, it's still up in the air as to whether they'll play Medicine Hat or Lethbridge.
But Dupont couldn't care less who the opponent is.
"It doesn't really matter because if we show up with no work ethic and don't play well, we're gonna lose to either or those teams," said Dupont.
"If we show up with our heads in the game, work hard and play to our potential, we can beat those teams."