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Brodie picks up his game

by Dhiren Mahiban / Calgary Flames

Abbotsford, BC – With four points in his last five games rookie defenceman T.J. Brodie continues to impress his teammates and coaching staff.

The 20-year-old, Dresden, ON native is now tied for the team lead in points with 34 and leads all Heat players with 29 assists.

“He can be a special player, you can just see it out there. He’s got all the talent in the world and he really impressed me (Friday) night,” said Heat captain Quintin Laing. “What can I say about him? He’s a special player.”

Brodie had a pair of assists in Friday’s win over the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“I’ve really been happy with T.J. for a while now. I think T.J. was our best defenceman now for probably five games in a row,” said head coach Jim Playfair. “For a first year defenceman, he plays the off side, which isn’t an easy thing to adjust to and he’s done a good job of doing that.”

With 16 power play assists, Brodie is fourth among AHL rookies.

Week in Review

The Heat finished up a four-game, six-night road trip with just a single point.

Last Friday Abbotsford managed to squeeze out a single point in a 3-2 shootout loss in Manitoba. Chris Breen and Carter Bancks had the goals for the Heat.

Two nights later Abbotsford was edged 2-1 by the Moose – Ryan MacMurchy had the lone goal for the Heat while J.P. Lamoureux made 24 saves in the loss.

This past Tuesday the Hamilton Bulldogs managed to get two points from the Heat winning 3-1. Jon Rheault had the lone Heat goal.

The following night Abbotsford dropped a 4-1 decision to the Bulldogs – John Armstrong found the back of the net for the Heat.

“I look at it this way: we should’ve had a better fate in Manitoba. I thought we played two really good games in Manitoba,” said Playfair of the winless road trip. “I thought we played a good period in Hamilton then I think one particular line in Hamilton did a lot of damage for us.”

Abbotsford snapped their four-game winless skid on Friday night with a 4-2 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Ales Kotalik, Ryan MacMurchy, Quintin Laing and Matt Keith helped the Heat open up a 4-0 lead. Leland Irving made 18 saves in his first game back after missing five with a groin injury.

Ortio Signed

The Calgary Flames signed goaltending prospect Joni Ortio earlier this week and the Flames 2009, sixth-round draft pick joined the Abbotsford Heat on Wednesday in Hamilton.

This season Ortio spent the majority of the year with TPS in the Finnish Elite league playing in 15 games with a 3.12 GAA and a .910% save percentage.

“(Signing an ATO) gives Joni an opportunity to get acclimated to his new teammates and the level of play in the AHL. It will make him even more prepared when he comes to our summer development and rookie camps this year,” said Flames acting GM, Jay Feaster. “We are excited to have him under contract and look forward to his continued development in North America.” The 19-year-old, Turku, Finland native represented his country at both the 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championships.

In Buffalo, NY this past Christmas Ortio, who played for the same Finnish team as Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, finished the tournament with the second lowest goals against average (1.86), the second highest save percentage (.931%), tied for the lead in shutouts (1) and played the second most minutes (354:52) in six games.

“I know that he was with TPS Turku, which is Mikka’s team,” said Playfair. “I know that Jamie McLennan was over there doing some scouting to see how he could help him with his summer training.”

Making his debut with the Abbotsford Heat may be easier said than done.

“We’ll see where Irv is at after playing tonight. We’ll take tomorrow off – then we have three games in two and a half nights almost, with travel, I don’t like to play one goaltender all three games,” continued Playfair.

“The other thing we have to be aware of is where (Matt) Keetley and the (injured reserve) group is because Keetley is on the non-roster group – so I've got to pay attention and see if he can play.

“Can I get Orito in? I want to get him in – it’s just a matter of can I get him in.”

Kotalik Returned

For the second time this season the Calgary Flames reassigned veteran forward Ales Kotalik to the Abbotsford Heat.

The 32-year-old had three points in six games with the Flames after his first stint with the Heat.

“I came down here and I’m trying to be a good player – helping the playoff push. That’s what I’m focusing on – that’s it,” said Kotalik, who had four goals and 15 assists during his first go around with the Heat. “If I don’t bring offense here I would have no use. I take a lot of pride in helping these guys out and you feel like an important part of the team - that gives me confidence.”

Kotalik’s impact was felt immediately as he opened the scoring, on the power play, Friday night in Abbotsford’s win over Grand Rapids.

“He brings that dimension on our power play, we’re a little bit more affective. I mean he’s a pretty good player so anytime you can add a guy like that to your line-up you’re going to be a better team,” said Laing. “With him in our line-up we’re a pretty dangerous team.”

Injury Update

Kris Chucko – Concussion

Mitch Wahl – Concussion

Joe Piskula – Concussion

Stefan Meyer – Lower Body

Cam Cunning - Knee

Look Ahead

The Heat then have Sunday off before finishing off their final home stand of the regular season against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday and Tuesday.

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