Helmer reaches milestone in Barons’ win

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … With two goals and an assist in Oklahoma City’s 7-2 win at Peoria on Thursday, Barons veteran Bryan Helmer etched his name into the American Hockey League’s record books as the top-scoring defenseman in league history. Helmer has racked up 122 goals and 398 assists for 520 points in 986 regular-season AHL games.

Helmer tops a mark which was held for nearly four years by John Slaney, who recorded 519 points during his AHL career.

The 38-year-old Helmer, who captained Hershey to back-to-back Calder Cup championships in 2009 and 2010, signed with Oklahoma City on Jan. 7 and has made an immediate impact with the Barons, recording two goals and five assists in his first four games, including at least one point in all four contests.

Not bad for a guy who was sitting at home in Westport, Ontario, all season, until Oklahoma City signed him.

"I was playing town hockey," Helmer said, laughing. "Hanging out with my friends. I called all over and couldn’t get anyone to sign me. I was just hoping someone would call.

"Now I’ve got the record. I played against John Slaney, and this is such an exciting night for me, such an honor. I think it shows I’ve been on good teams all my career."

Helmer’s historic power play goal was delivered while Peoria captain Dean Arsene was on the ice. Helmer played with Arsene and Peoria winger Graham Mink on Hershey’s 2008-09 Calder Cup champions.

"Those are great guys over there," Helmer said. "But it’s always fun to beat them."

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Helmer has also suited up in the AHL for Albany, Worcester, Manitoba, Springfield, Grand Rapids, and San Antonio over the course of his 18-year career. In addition to his pair of Calder Cup titles with Hershey, he won the AHL championship with Albany in 1995.

Helmer, who was already the AHL’s career leader among defenseman in assists (now 398), needs to appear in 14 more games to become the seventh player in league history to reach the 1,000 plateau. A former First Team AHL All-Star (1998) and Second-Team AHL All-Star (2006), Helmer has appeared in an AHL-record 138 Calder Cup Playoff games.

Helmer is also a veteran of 146 National Hockey League contests with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver, and as recently as the 2008-09 season, Washington.