Moose makes tracks for Big Apple

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

Brodie Dupont is getting set to take a bite out of the Big Apple.

The Calgary Hitmen power forward leaves this afternoon for his first big-league camp with the New York Rangers.

Dupont was in New York this summer and enjoyed the experience.

"I went down there for development camp and that city's just crazy," the 18-year-old winger says. "It's an Original Six team and a real hockey city."

Realizing he's a year or two away from having a legitimate chance of cracking the Blueshirts' lineup, Dupont is looking forward to the learning experience.

"They're rebuilding so I think I'm going to have a shot with them later on in my career."

The Rangers selected Dupont in the third round (66th overall) of the NHL Entry Draft just over a month ago.

The St. Lazare, Man., product was following the draft proceedings at his home but had to relocate to a friend's house.

"I had TSN at my house but they only covered the first round," Dupont says. "So I went to a buddy's house and watched it on NHL Network. I saw my name pop up and kind of jumped off the couch."

Dupont will miss tonight's pre-season opener in Airdrie (7 p.m. twin arenas) against Red Deer as well as weekend clashes in Medicine Hat and against the Kootenay Ice. He'll be back for the final two exhibition games, both against the Rebels, next week.

"I'm scheduled to come back on Sept. 11 out of New York city. That's exciting," he says with obvious sarcasm.

When he does return to the Hitmen lineup, he'll be looked upon as one of the team's leaders.

Dupont's 14 goals during his rookie season rank him second among returning players (Riley Merkley notched 15).

"We definitely lost a lot of depth," he says. "The coaches told me they have high expectations and I have high expectations for myself.

"I'll take the pressure and use it for motivation."

In just his second season, the 6-ft. 2-in., 195-pounder will be asked to shoulder more responsibilities than most sophomores.

His 111 PIM is tops among Hitmen returnees, suggesting he'll provide the club with a much-needed physical presence up front.

"I've always been one of the guys my team can count on," Dupont says. "The only difference now is that it's at a higher level."

Knowing he'll be under a bigger microscope this season, Dupont spent the summer working on his wheels.

"I worked on my foot speed, trying to get a little more explosive out of the box," he says. "I also worked on my hands and overall strength but foot speed was my main focus."

LONELY IN THE NETS: One is a lonely number -- especially when you're the only goaltender left in camp.

With Justin Pogge away at camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Daniel Spence will be seeing a lot of pucks this week.

Unless GM/head coach Kelly Kisio can secure a backup for this week's pre-season tilts -- beginning tonight in Airdrie -- the the sophomore 'tender will be flying solo.

Spence, 17, was 5-5-2 in his rookie season with an impressive 2.61 GAA and .904 save percentage.


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