By Jim Byers, on 01/08/2011

Peoria Rivermen (24-10-2-1) at Oklahoma City Barons (18-15-1-4)
Game 39  |  Home Game 23  |  AHL Game 576
Jan. 8, 2011, 6:05 pm CST  | Cox Convention Center
Broadcast: KXY 96.1 FM

TONIGHT: The Barons and Peoria complete back-to-back games as OKC’s 5-game homestand continues. The Rivermen won last night 5-2 to level the season series at 1-1. OKC is 1-2-0-0 so far on the homestand, which will be followed by a 7-game, 6-city trip. Peoria has won 4 straight and leads the West Division by 2 points over San Antonio. Six points cover the division’s first 5 teams. OKC is seventh, 10 points back, matching its farthest point from the lead this season. Last night’s loss dropped the Barons to 9-9-1-3 at home.

HELMER DEBUTS: Veteran defenseman Bryan Helmer was signed yesterday to a Professional Tryout contract (PTO) and earned an assist in his first game of the season. 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 (393) and games played (983). He also has appeared in 146 NHL games with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Last night’s game was just the second of 8 meetings between the Barons and Rivermen and the first in OKC. The teams will play the season series in bunches, as they meet again tonight, Thursday and Friday (the latter two in 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 games, with the only interruption being tomorrow’s contest with Lake Erie at the Cox Center. The teams will also play a back-to-back set Feb. 3-4 in OKC before wrapping up the season series March 15.

PENALTY PARADE: The Barons took their first game misconduct of the season last night 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.

SEASONS HIGHS SET: Philippe Cornet and Matt Marquardt each set season highs for shots in a game with 5 last night as OKC totaled 39 for the game. Milan Kytnar scored his third professional goal and set a personal best with 3 shots.

SHOT CHART: The Barons have been out-shot in 8 straight games. The last time they totaled more shots than the opposition was in a 3-0 home loss against Hamilton Dec. 17. For the season, the Barons have been out-shot 1191-1178, but have a positive goal differential at 122-117. OKC is 7-7-1-1 when out-shooting the opposition, 10-7-0-2 when out-shot and 1-1-0-1 when the shots are even.

IN THE CREASE: When Jeff Deslauriers next plays for the Barons it will be his first AHL game since Dec. 20 at Texas. Deslauriers played for Team Canada at the post-Christmas Spengler Cup in Switzerland. Canada lost the tournament final, but Deslauriers was named Outstanding Goaltender.

ODDS AND ENDS: Defenseman Alex Plante has earned assists in 2 straight games after going 14 games without a point...prior to that 14-game stretch, Plante built a 3-game assist streak from Nov. 21-26...Alexandre Giroux had a 5-game point streak snapped last night...after this weekend, the Barons will have just 16 home games remaining...tomorrow is Game 40 for OKC, marking the half-way point of the season...tonight is the second time this season (and in AHL history) that 15 games have been scheduled...the league is at a peak of 30 teams in 2010-11.

Last 5 games:
Date      Opp.      Result        OKC Goalie (GA,SV)   Opp. Goalie          Attn.
Dec. 29  @ SA      L, 3-5           Gerber (4, 36)                 Climie (3, 30)           6,894
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

Next 5 games (all times Central):
Date      Opp.                  Site                                      Time  Broadcast
Jan. 9     Lake Erie            Cox Center                           5:05    KXY 96.1 FM
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     

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