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HELMER'S LONG CAREER APPROACHES NEW MILESTONE
By Chris Wescott,
AHL Commissioner David Andrews presents the Calder Cup to (former) Hershey Bears' Captain Bryan Helmer.Oklahoma City Barons’ defenseman Bryan Helmer is well-traveled to say the least. Helmer is closing in on 1,000 games played in the American Hockey League and at the age of 38, he is still going strong.
In the Barons 7-2 win over Peoria January 13, Helmer became the top scoring defenseman in AHL history, with three points. Helmer says he knew right away that he had broken the record with his third period power play goal.
“I did,” Helmer said. “I did. It was on my mind and as soon as I saw the puck go in, I knew I had the record. So it was good.”
When Helmer first entered the professional ranks in 1993, he never dreamed of being the AHL point leader.
“Not at all, especially where I came from.” Helmer said.
“I just thought maybe if I get a couple years pro I’d be happy. But to do what I did is pretty special and like I said, I’m pretty fortunate to do that and to stay healthy through most of the time through my career.”
Helmer joined the Barons on Jan. 7, and since then has fit in perfectly with OKC, contributing early and often. He was even named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week on January 17.
The defenseman says it has been easy to mesh with the team since his signing and that he loves playing in Oklahoma City.
“It has. The guys here have been great. They’ve made me feel right at home. You know, obviously I’ve said before I’ve played with Alex (Giroux) and obviously… He’s a great guy. That was one of the things I talked about with him, before I signed, is how are the guys, how is the team. He said, ‘great bunch of guys’ and we’ve got a bunch of good, young guys that could… go a long ways. So that was one of the reasons that I signed.”
“I love it. It’s the first time I’ve ever been (to Oklahoma City) and the fans are great and the facility is nice and the city itself is really nice. So it’s good that I’m here.”
Helmer played with Barons’ forward Alexandre Giroux in Hershey the last two seasons.
The Sault St. Marie, Ontario native has played a professional career stretching back over 18 years. It has been a long road that may be coming to an end.
“Well, I think this could be my last one,” Helmer said. “My wife’s been great to let me do this for 18 years, and I’ve accomplished a lot of things and I’m really happy now with my career but you never know. Things do change sometimes and we’ll go from there.”
But before he thinks about retiring, Helmer says he’d love to get to the 1,000 game mark.
“I’d love to get 1,000 games. That’d be another great milestone, another personal goal that I’d love to reach. That was the two things that I wanted to come back for. The point record and to get 1,000 games. If I could do that, it’d be icing on the cake.”
As of January 17, Helmer has appeared in 988 AHL games and 146 NHL games. He says his love of the game has been what keeps him going.
“Well, I love it. I absolutely love coming to the rink, I love being around the young guys. I like to work out. I like to stay in shape. It makes you feel good. If it wasn’t for those things, I wouldn’t be playing obviously and I still have the itch to win, obviously after the last two years. That’s why I’m back.”
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