By Eric Rodgers, on 06/18/2012

Ryan Keller joined the Oklahoma City Barons prior to the 2011-12 season after winning the 2011 Calder Cup with the Binghamton Senators. With the makeup of the Barons roster leaning toward a younger core, Keller was pegged to be one of the leaders of the team.

“I would like to think I’m still a younger guy, but I think was labeled an older guy a little bit at the start of the year.” The 28-year old Keller said, laughing. “It’s tough to shake that once you’ve got it.”

 Playing in 71 of the Barons’ 76 regular-season games, Keller was second on the team in games played and led the team in scoring with 49 points (21-28-49). The top of the team leaderboard is familiar territory for Keller.  In each of his previous four seasons, he has led his club in goals scored and been among the leaders in scoring.

As the 11-12 season progressed, Keller could tell the Barons group had a special bond, different than other locker rooms he has been associated with recently.

“We had a special group of guys in the room. Everyone got along and everyone had a good time together. You know, that doesn’t happen often.” Keller said. “You spend so much time together, you’re at the rink everyday together, a couple hours at least and on the road.

“Guys start to get on each other’s nerves a lot of times, and that wasn’t the case here. We had a really close-knit group, and I think that was a big part of our success.”

Keller played in his third Calder Cup playoffs this season, playing in last year’s with Binghamton, and with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2006 campaign. When asked what a big highlight of the season was, Keller answered with the ending of Game 2 against the San Antonio Rampage.

“Maggie’s (Magnus Paajarvi) goal against San Antonio there where we pulled the goalie late. They were already up one game to none, and for us to go down two games to nothing in that series would have been tough to come back from. For him to score with however much time was left with the goalie out and get us in to overtime, and then Greener (Josh Green) to win it. I think those two goals stand out for me.”

After his first season in Oklahoma City, Keller was very impressed with the city.

“I can’t say enough about the city, it was awesome. I would come back, definitely. My family loved it, we have a young daughter and there’s just so much to do for them here. Obviously the weather’s nice, they can go to the park and things like that, kind of year-round.”

Looking ahead to next season, Keller expressed having to get used to the season being over.

“I don’t know, it seems like we shouldn’t be done yet, it ended so fast. I’ll take the next two or three weeks here and sit back and think about what next year brings and what we want to do, and just go from there.”

That’s not to say he’ll spend his entire off-season thinking about hockey though.

“I can’t wait to get back and see all my family and friends. There’ll be a lot of time spent out on the lake. I’m excited to get back and kind of relax with everyone.”

Keller leaves this season with a good impression of not only the city, but the fans as well and thanked them for their support.

“The fans that were here were passionate and they were involved and they were loud. The feeling after Game 2 here against Toronto when things kind of got a little bit hairy on the ice and the crowd was going nuts. That’s the things you play for; it was a lot of fun. The atmosphere in this building was really good.”

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