Former Habs winger Bill Lindsay and Corey Locke are the two last Bulldogs to score a playoff hat-trick.
HAMILTON - Like most nights, there were certainly bigger players on the ice at Copps Coliseum in Game 3 of Hamilton's first round series against Rochester than Corey Locke. That being said, none loomed larger than the shifty, 5-foot-9 centerman.
Locke's hat-trick in a 5-4 double overtime win Sunday night not only allowed the Bulldogs to grab a 2-1 series lead, but also etched Locke's name into the team's playoff record book. Not since NHL journeyman and one-time Hab Bill Lindsay exploded for three goals in a 6-2 win over the Manitoba Moose on May 4, 2003, had a Bulldog notched a postseason hat-trick.
"I felt good about facing Rochester, I played pretty well against them this year," said Locke, who had 11 points in 10 games against the Sabres' farm team during the regular season. "I was just hoping to keep it going in the playoffs."
After being held off the scoresheet in the two opening games in Rochester, Locke's wish finally came true on home-ice.
"I was happy with how I played in their barn even though the results weren't there," admitted Locke, the Canadiens' fourth-round pick, 113th overall, at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. "The puck was hitting sticks, skates you name it, anything but the net. But that changed tonight and I'm glad I was able to help us get this big win tonight in front of our fans."
Locke didn't do it alone, however. Bulldogs head coach Don Lever's clever line juggling on this night helped pave the way for the 22-year-old.
"With us getting Mikhail Grabovski back in the lineup, I wanted to have his speed help us down the middle so I moved Corey to the wing," explained Lever. "I didn't expect to give Locke as much ice-time as I did, but with the way he played tonight I didn't see any reason to take him off the ice. Corey just seemed to be in the right place at the right time all night long."
Locke will look to keep on rolling against Rochester in Game 4 at the Copps Coliseum Tuesday night, when the Bulldogs look to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the series.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com