LETHBRIDGE -- The Calgary Hitmen know the WHL playoffs are akin to war on ice. So they're ready for battle, complete with new camouflage T-shirts for the playoff drive.
Seems the Hitmen coaches thought it fitting to get the apparel made with a Vince Lombardi quote on the back: 'The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.'
On the front is the Hitmen logo with the words CH Army.
Rookie Brodie Dupont said the shirts are symbolic.
"The coaches brought them in yesterday after we had a little meeting," said the bruising winger, who assisted on Tyrel Lucas's goal last night. "It describes how we're going to war in the playoffs."
Fans know of the hideous aviator shades given by the players to the hero of the game after a win. Well, for the playoff run, the club is incorporating an army helmet to be passed out after every triumph.
Last night was the first WHL post-season tilt for the Hitmen freshmen and they noticed a major increase in tempo and intensity to go with some jitters.
"I didn't think I was going to be nervous but I was," said Dupont, who's from St. Lazare, Man.
Dupont didn't show any signs of anxiousness. He hit everything that moved and made sure he trashed talked every chance he got.
"That's my role in the playoffs," said Dupont, who saw a lot of ice against Lethbridge's top guns Jonathan Filewich, Colton Yellow Horn and Kyle Pess. "We've got to limit them as much as possible and if that's what it takes, getting in their heads or yapping at them, that's what I'm going to do."
Like Dupont, Ryan White noticed a major jump from the regular season.
"Every player is playing at the next level and it shows on the ice. It's more upbeat, everyone's competing harder for loose pucks," said the 16-year-old from Brandon, Man. "It's just a battle out there. You can't take any shifts off. We took two shifts off and they put it in our net."
With Game 2 tonight in Lethbridge, rest assured the Hitmen won't surrender.