Goaltender Joni Ortio got his first win in a Heat uniform Saturday night as the Stockton Heat defeated the Edmonton Oilers affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, on the road 3-2.
Ortio made 30 saves, including twelve in the third period, to guide the Heat in his second game since being reassigned by the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The Finn’s play earned him first star of the game honors.
“It was really nice,” Ortio said. “That was the agenda coming into tonight – to have a bounce back game and give the guys a chance to win. As a team, we had a lot better start than we did last night. That helped to settle me into the game and was really the key for us.”
Defenceman Jakub Nakladal, who has been an active shooter from the point throughout the season, was finally rewarded for his efforts in the second period when he fired a slapshot from atop the attacking zone for the game-winning goal. In addition to being his first of the season, it was the Czech’s first goal scored in North America.
“It’s nice to finally score because I think it was a little bit longer than I’d like without one,” Nakladal said. “I’ve had my chances this year, but tonight I got one. It was the winning goal and a power-play goal, so that was important for our unit. We have struggled to score on the power play a little this season despite getting our chances. It’s important to keep scoring on our unit.”
Elson paced Stockton with five shots while centre Drew Shore assisted on two of the goals to extend his point streak to three games.
The win came one night after a slobberknocker of a contest between the two teams in Stockton. Ortio surrendered four goals in the first 13:03 of the game before being pulled for Kent Simpson.
The teams then traded goals in the second period with Bakersfield answering defenceman Oliver Kylington’s third of the season and Hathaway’s second of the night.
Less than three minutes passed in the third period before Stockton pulled within one for the third time as defenceman Hunter Smith collected his first career goal by burying rebound at the top of the crease.
“We got it on the forecheck and forced the turnover,” Smith said. “Our defense got it and made a pass to [Turner Elson]. Elson came in and made a shot and I was just standing in front. That’s where I have to live, so it went off my pants, got in behind the goalie and just touched it in.”
Bakersfield staved off all other challenges to secure the 6-5 victory with Stockton producing 17 shots in the period and 49 in the game. Simpson made eleven saves in the loss.
The Heat (6-7-0-2) will make the short trip to the Bay Area for the first time this season to face the San Jose Barracuda on Friday night at 8:30 MT.
by Ed Lupien