Long road

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Brodie (Moose) Dupont's battle-weary Ford Taurus was sitting outside the Saddledome yesterday, running a little rough, much like its owner. "Ten hours away," noted the sleepy-eyed St. Lazare, Man., native, managing a smile despite a perverse lack of sleep.

"I'm going right back."

In one hand rested a bundle of hockey sticks, survivors from the Calgary Hitmen's WHL playoff run.

The other held a modest cheque to cover expenses for the monotonous trek home, eastward on Hwy. 1.

That's the same barren landscape Dupont and his Hitmen mates rattled down six times to and from Brandon the past two weeks, confirming the trip is equally interesting at night.

"It'll be a little quiet around St. Lazare but it will be nice to get away from everything," offered the talented forward whose destination boasts just 250 residents and where his father, Martin Dupont, resides as mayor.

"But I love the attention we had, the focus from the media during the playoffs. Not a lot of teams get this much attention as Calgary does.

"The first thing I'm going to do is probably sleep. A full day of resting. When you're in the playoffs, you're full of adrenalin every night and that's what you're basically running on. All of sudden today, I'm sitting back and it's like, 'Wow, I'm tired.'

"This has been hard on the body."

The rugged forward said he lost a few pounds during the Hitmen's playoff journey that lasted through to Game 7 of the second round before being ousted by Brandon.

The 18-year-old expects to spend part of his summer staying in shape playing hockey in Brandon while waiting for an NHL lockout settlement and subsequent draft to sort out his hockey future.

While Dupont expects to play a major role in the Hitmen's 2005-06 WHL season, he's anxious to learn who'll own his NHL rights.

Next season Dupont should be a fixture in a Hitmen lineup that will be without key players from the top two lines.

"Next year I'll be one of the older guys on the team -- we'll have a young team," Dupont points out.

"I think I'll be put in a lot of key situations and I'm expecting a lot of myself next year. I think it will develop me more. I want to learn to play in pressure situations, get a lot of ice time and I'll benefit from that.

"We're going to have a young team next year but we've got a lot of talented young guys who'll have good years next year, too."

Unlike Hitmen teammates Dustin Kohn and Riley Merkley, Dupont wasn't invited this season to the annual Prospects Game but is expected to draw plenty of interest from NHL clubs.

While Kohn and Merkley managed four points apiece in the playoffs, Dupont gained attention collecting two goals and eight assists.

"I haven't thought about the draft too much," insists Dupont, who has talked with the NHL's Islanders, Rangers and Coyotes.

"Obviously, I don't want to miss out on it. Let's have a draft and see if I get drafted.

"Maybe I'll think about it more in my 10-hour ride home by myself."


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