With nothing but practice, practice, practice, for the past five days, the Calgary Hitmen are itching for the playoffs to start.
But Brodie (Moose) Dupont might be champing at the bit a little more than his teammates.
As the WHL regular season wrapped up last weekend, Dupont was on fire in the second half, racking up 25 goals and 16 assists over the final 46 games. It's a far cry from his struggles earlier in the season, which started at the New York Rangers training camp.
"When I came back from New York's camp, I wasn't really too pleased with the way I played there, so I came back with not as much confidence as I would like," said the product of St. Lazare, Man., who finished the season with 30 goals.
"I was struggling a little bit to put the puck in the net."
In the early stages of the campaign, crossbars and posts were his biggest enemies.
"If they kept count of them and there was such a record, I think I'd be up there and it was starting to get a little frustrating," said Dupont, 19, with a laugh. "But as long as I was getting scoring chances, I was still happy.
"Since Christmas I've been rolling and putting some pucks in the net and the confidence has been going up. But I think my work ethic's gone up, too."
He sat down with the Hitmen coaching staff, who suggested he work harder and set a personal goal. That was to score 30 goals, which he accomplished.
Dupont also vowed to work harder.
"I just started to work a lot harder in practice and paid attention to the details a little bit more in our own end. I was a minus around Christmas and tried to play better in our defensive zone," said Dupont, who ended the season plus-6. "From there it helped the offensive game and it all came together."
What resulted was Dupont's best season in the Dub as he wound up with 53 points.
And he never lost that physical edge, racking up 123 penalty minutes.
Heading into tomorrow's Game 1 in the best-of-seven first-round series against the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the Hitmen and 'Canes are essentially flip-flopped from when they met last year.
Lethbridge was favoured but got upset by the Hitmen, while this season it's the Hitmen who come in as the team to beat.
And Dupont will be counted on to pot his fair share of goals on a Hitmen squad that hasn't exactly set the league on fire.
"It's a little bit of pressure but I don't mind it," Dupont said.
"Even growing up, I was the guy counted on to score goals and I love that pressure.
"But for us to win the series, we're going to have secondary scoring and other guys stepping up."
HIT PARADE: As a team, the Calgary Hitmen have 225 games of post-season experience. Derek LeBlanc leads the way with 35 games. He also has the most points (5g, 10a) with 15. There are eight current Hitmen players who have yet to play a WHL post-season contest (Curtis Kelner, Ryan Letts, Carson McMillan, Freddie Pettersson, Mike Reich, Brett Sonne, Daniel Spence and Lucas Vantuch).