Heat sweep Barons in two-game set
Joni Ortio collected his league-leading 15th win of the year on Saturday
ABBOTSFORD, BC -- The Abbotsford Heat reclaimed top spot in the AHL on Saturday when they downed the Oklahoma City Barons 4-2.
The Heat have 48 points on the year with a 23-9-2 record.
"I thought what we got done today was a good team effort," head coach Troy G. Ward said. "We started slow ... we kind of knew we would. As much as we felt we were ready to play, we kind of felt like they were going to have a strong push. They had a good push. They played well.
"We had two parts of the game. The first part, which I thought we chased the puck a lot. We just couldn't catch it enough. They won a lot of face-offs. And then the second half of the game, we kind of changed our posture, which we do at times. I thought that gave us a little bit of a lift. Then in the second half of the game, I thought Orts got really strong."
Oklahoma City opened the scoring in the opening frame when Curtis Hamilton was able to beat Joni Ortio at 7:49. Just over 10 minutes later, Markus Granlund potted the equalizer when he undressed Denis Grebeshkov on a one-on-one rush and fired a shot past Richard Bachman. Max Reinhart and Brady Lamb collected the helpers on Granlund's 13th goal of the year.
Lane MacDermid, who was acquired by the Flames earlier this season, scored his first goal in Heat silks in the final frame - a tally which would end up being the game-winner as Hamilton scored his second goal of the night under a minute later.
Flames 2011 first round pick Sven Baertschi added the Heat's fourth goal, a power play marker, with just 1:17 remaining. The 21-year-old, who has been playing on a line with Granlund and Brett Olson, was held pointless in his first four games with the Heat this season so seeing his first of the year go in was a big relief for the winger.
"It was pretty important for me," he said. "It's been quite the grind. I've been getting a lot of shots and a lot of chances. Especially our line, I think we've created a lot of offence but the goals just weren't there.
"Granny got one and me getting one, I think that's going to give us some confidence."
Ortio made 32 saves in the victory and now leads the AHL with 15 wins this season. Ward credited the Finn's play in the last 30 minutes for boosting the team's energy and confidence.
"I thought it was a struggle for the first half of the game for Orts, as well as our team," Ward acknowledged. "And then, as he turned around, I thought our team turned around."
2) Curtis Hamilton