Helgeson Sets Bridgeport RecordMar 24, 2023
By Rachel Luscher | @Rachel_Luscher
Bridgeport Islanders captain Seth Helgeson has made some history.
With 369 games played as of Wednesday, Mar. 29th, the veteran defenseman has broken Mark Wotton's franchise record set in the 2010-11 season.
"I'm very fortunate to have that opportunity," Helgeson said. "It's definitely an accomplishment that's worthy, so it'll be pretty exciting. But I'll treat it like any other game."
Since joining the Bridgeport Islanders in 2017 after spending parts of five seasons with the Albany Devils, Helgeson led his team to the playoffs twice. He served as alternate captain during the 2018-19 postseason where the Islanders fell 3-2 in the first round of a best-of-five series to the Hershey Bears. Last season, Helgeson captained Bridgeport to its first playoff series win since 2003, beating the Providence Bruins 2-0 in a best-of-three before later falling to the Charlotte Checkers. This season, the Islanders are holding onto a playoff spot in sixth place in the Atlantic Division with 66 points.
Helgeson's teammates are looking forward to watching their captain break the franchise record in the midst of their playoff push.
"We're so excited for him because it's coming so soon," Ruslan Iskhakov said. "He's been a leader in the locker room. He's a leader on the ice. We're lucky to have a guy like him in the locker room, he's a really good guy."
Bridgeport Head Coach Brent Thompson emphasized that Helgeson sets a strong example for others to follow, as his teammates are noticeably receptive to his words and actions.
"He's an encouraging captain," Thompson said of Helgeson. "When you work as hard as he does, and compete as hard as he does, he's got a big leash to be able to talk to guys, and they respect and listen to him."
"He's an extension of the coaching staff," Thompson added. "Encouraging [players] to manage the puck the right way in a game. Or being on them in practice, those little things that no one really sees or notices other than myself and [Assistant Coach] Rick Kowalsky."
Helgeson has the natural ability to train rookies on the team, a key characteristic of an influential leader for Bridgeport's younger crowd.
"He's a really good guy, he gets through to everyone," said William Dufour, who is in his first pro season. "If he's not happy with something he'll let you know. He's a really nice guy with me. He shows me how to play better, how to be a better person, how to be a better hockey player. And just to help me along the way and help me achieve my goals."
Helgeson's work ethic and durability on the ice stands out in Bridgeport, as the captain is one of two players to appear in all 61 games this season, despite playing a physical, stay-at-home game. Helgeson's 109 penalty minutes lead the team to go along with nine points (1G, 8A).
"He's a big strong guy and takes care of himself," Thompson said. "Those kinds of guys are hard to find, who can handle this grind, and physically handle it. I couldn't be happier with him as our captain."
Helgeson was named alternate captain ahead of the 2017-18 season and wore the "A" until he earned the "C" on Jan. 31, 2021. The 32-year-old defenseman described the process of developing a leadership style throughout the years.
"I learned in those first few years how to deal with certain players and how to treat guys in certain ways," Helgeson said. "Goes along with my playing type, just trying to be consistent in the locker room with each and every one. Make sure I show up and give everything I got to make sure the team succeeds.”
Helgeson's appreciation for the team and organization is reciprocated through every teammate he's mentored and helped throughout the years, as the veteran defenseman will soon go down in Bridgeport history.
"[Helgeson] is one of the best captains I've had," Andy Andreoff said. "He's a big leader on the team, everyone looks up to him. He's been around for a long time here and that's a huge accomplishment, breaking that record for Bridgeport."