By Jim Byers, on 01/09/2011

Lake Erie Monsters (16-17-3-4) at Oklahoma City Barons (18-15-2-4)
Game 40  |  Home Game 24  |  AHL Game 586
Jan. 9, 2011, 5:05 pm CST  | Cox Convention Center
Broadcast: KXY 96.1 FM

TODAY: The Barons hit the mid-point of the season and wrap up a 5-game homestand against the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche). OKC is 1-2-1-0 so far on the stand, which is followed by a 7-game road trip starting Thursday in Peoria. This is the fifth of 6 games with Lake Erie. OKC has won 3 of the previous 4, including a pair of regulation wins at the Cox Center in October and an overtime win Nov. 26 at Cleveland. The Barons are seventh in the West Division, 11 points back of first. The Monsters are tied for fifth in the North, 8 back of division-leading Hamilton.

A BREAK IN THE PEORIA SERIES: Today’s game serves as a hiatus in a string of contests between the Barons and Peoria. During the current stretch, Peoria is playing 4 straight games against the Barons and OKC is facing Peoria in 4 of a possible 5, with today being the only interruption. The Rivermen handed the Barons a 5-2 loss on Friday and a 5-4 overtime defeat last night. The teams play Thursday and Friday at Carver Arena before meeting in a back-to-back set Feb. 3-4 in OKC. They wrap up the 8-game season series March 15 in Peoria.

HELMER CONTRIBUTES: Veteran defenseman Bryan Helmer was signed Friday to a Professional Tryout contract (PTO) and has 3 assists in his first 2 games after not playing previously this season. He set up the Barons’ second goal on Friday and had 2 assists last night. Helmer captained the Hershey Bears to back-to-back Calder Cups the past 2 seasons. Among defensemen, Helmer is the league’s all-time leader in assists (395) and games played (984). He also has appeared in 146 NHL games with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington.

PENALTY PEAK: Last night’s game featured just 20 combined penalty minutes after the Barons and Rivermen piled up 78 PIMS the night before. The Barons took their first game misconduct of the season on Friday when Jake Taylor was handed the penalty along with Ryan Reaves for fighting after a different altercation had already started late in the second period. Taylor’s 15 penalty minutes were an OKC single-game high. The combined 78 PIMs were the most in a Barons game this season, surpassing a 76 penalty minute contest Oct. 17 at Houston.

GIROUX CLIMBS THE CHARTS: Alexandre Giroux has points in 6 of his last 7 games after scoring a pair of goals last night. Giroux has a hat trick and four 2-goal games this season. The Barons are 7-0-1-1 in the 9 games in which Giroux has scored a goal. The AHL goal champ the past 2 seasons leads the Barons with 38 points (15G, 23A) and is fifth in the league in points.

SHOTS MOUNTING: The Barons have been out-shot in 9 straight games. The last time they totaled more shots than the opposition was in a 3-0 home loss against Hamilton Dec. 17. OKC is 7-7-1-1 when out-shooting the opposition, 10-7-1-2 when out-shot and 1-1-0-1 when the shots are even.

INCIDENTALS: Last night’s OT loss snapped a stretch of 3 straight sudden-death wins for OKC...the Barons are 3-2 in OT, with all 3 wins on the road and both losses at the Cox Center...Ben Ondrus has points in 3 straight, including his first shorthanded goal of the year last night...Jeff Deslauriers returned to OKC’s net last night after not playing in the AHL since Dec. 20...Deslauriers played all 5 games for Team Canada at the post-Christmas Spengler Cup tournament in Switzerland, earning Top Goaltender’s game features the 2-referee, 2-linesmen will be the sixth Barons’ game to feature 2 referees, a system used for all NHL games but being phased into the AHL this season.

Last 5 games:
Date      Opp.      Result        OKC Goalie (GA,SV)   Opp. Goalie          Attn.
Dec. 31  @ SA      W, 4-1          Gerber (1, 44)                 Climie (3, 19)           6,360
Jan. 1     Rockford W, 2-1          Pitton (1, 30)                   Toivonen (2, 24)      3,229
Jan. 2     Rockford L, 5-6           Gerber (6, 30)                 Richards (5, 30)       3,210
Jan. 7     Peoria     L, 2-5           Gerber (5, 36)                 Allen (2, 37)            4,789
Jan. 8     Peoria     L, 4-5 (OT)   Deslauriers (5, 29)           Bishop (4, 23)         4,058

Next 5 games (all times Central):
Date      Opp.                  Site                                      Time  Broadcast
Jan. 13   @ Peoria             Carver Arena                        7:05    KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 14   @ Peoria             Carver Arena                        7:05    KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 15   @ San Antonio   AT&T Center                        7:00    KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 18   @ Lake Erie        Quicken Loans Arena          6:00    KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 20   @ Milwaukee       Bradley Center                     7:00    KXY 96.1 FM

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