Rookie making big adjustment from junior

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:13 PM ET

Suddenly, Corey Locke isn't the guy anymore. Over the past two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, Locke was the man.

He was the player that others around the league wanted to be -- having led the OHL in scoring in consecutive years (only the third player ever to accomplish the feat) and winning the league MVP award twice in the span.

But putting up big numbers with the Ottawa 67's (269 points over his final two seasons) doesn't mean anything these days.

The past is well, history.

"It's been a big adjustment from being a junior hockey player," the Hamilton Bulldogs rookie centre admitted after the morning skate at the MTS Centre yesterday. The Bulldogs are in Winnipeg for a two-game set with the Manitoba Moose this weekend.

"I step back and look at things more than I did last year," he added. "That's that one thing I've learned -- is to pay attention to everything now."

The 4th round selection (113th overall) of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003 National Hockey league Entry Draft, Locke, 20, is feeling less like a professional hockey player and more like he's back in school again.

He's learning what is involved in being a pro -- whether it's being responsible for his man in the defensive zone or conducting himself a certain way off the ice.

Like Locke said, he's paying attention to everything, especially to what the older players on the team do.

"It sounds a little easier than it is," Locke said regarding his new life in a brighter spotlight. "Luckily, we have a lot of great guys that will help you out and show you what's what. They make (the transition) a lot easier."

So just how have things gone for the scorer as a 'Dog?

In 25 games, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Newmarket, Ont.-product has seven goals and 13 points, including his first American Hockey League goal against the Moose back in October.

He's not setting the league on fire, which is OK with his head coach.

"Corey is moving along slowly," Bulldogs big dog Doug Jarvis said. "I find that all the entry-level players, when they come into the league, that there's an adjustment to the pace and the size of the game at this level.

"He's a very creative player, and he's adjusting."

On the ice, off the ice, all these adjustments for Locke at the AHL level must be a little frustrating.

What's been the biggest change he's had to go through?

"Playing for (head coach) Brian Kilrea in Ottawa. He let's you freelance a little bit out there and try new things," Locke said of his days with the 67's. "At this level, you have to play within the system. You have to be strong defensively, to be in the right spot at the right time.

"If you're not, chances are the other team will capitalize."


Videos

Photos