Bulldogs change a Locke, ring a new Belle

Hamilton Bulldogs all-time leading scorer in the American Hockey League, forward Corey Locke, has been traded away by the parent National Hockey League Montreal Canadiens. Locke became a member of the Locke becomes a member of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild in return for defenceman Shawn Belle.

Locke, 24, leaves Hamilton as the Bulldogs’ leader in goals (85), assists (144) and points (229) after 313 regular season contests with the club, the fourth most in franchise history. Last season, the 5’9″, 171-pound forward led Hamilton in goals (30), assists (42) and points (72), all career-high totals, and represented the Bulldogs at the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic in Binghamton, N.Y. The Newmarket native also made his NHL debut in 2007-2008. On Jan. 8 Locke, who was selected by Montreal in the fourth round, 113th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, was in the line-up for the Canadiens 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at Bell Centre.

In 26 career post-season games with Hamilton, Locke had 22 points, all in the 2007 Calder Cup playoffs, when he led the Bulldogs in goals (10), assists (12) and points (22) and helped the franchise capture its first-ever AHL championship.

During his four seasons with the organization from 2004-2008, Locke won six team awards including the Hamilton Bulldogs Leading Scorer Award’ in 2005-2006 and 2007-2008, the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Community Leadership Award in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, the Bill Sturrup Trophy (formerly the Hamilton Bulldogs Fans’ Choice Award’ in 2004-2005 and the Molson Cup Award in 2007-2008.

“Corey Locke has been a valuable member of our team both on and off the ice for the past four years”, said Bulldogs majority owner and chairman Michael Andlauer. “As our all-time leading goal, assist and point producer and as the leading post-season scorer on our 2007 Calder Cup Championship squad, Corey’s contributions on the ice are well documented. But, what many people may not know is just how active Corey has been in our community making countless visits to schools and hospitals. On behalf of our entire organization and our fans, I’d like to thank Corey for all that he did for our team and our community and wish him the best of luck in the future.”

Belle, 23, was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the first round, 30th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. In 2007-2008, his third season as a professional, the 6’2″, 232-pound defenceman registered three points (one goal, two assists) and 74 penalty minutes in 63 games with the Houston Aeros.

In nine career regular season NHL games, all with Minnesota in 2006-2007, the Edmonton native has registered one point (one assist) and no penalty minutes. In 181 career regular season AHL games with the Iowa Stars (45 games in 2005-2006) and Houston Aeros (136 games from 2005-2008), Belle has produced 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) and 228 penalty minutes.

A teammate of former Hamilton Bulldogs and current Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price with the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans from 2003 to 2005, Belle was named to the Canadian National Team four times during his junior career and earned a gold medal with Team Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Under-20 Championships in 2005.