My mindset going into camp is to make the team out of camp and not go to Adirondack at all. I can’t worry about that. At this point, it is crucial to get a lot of games in. I want them to be in the NHL and that’s the goal I’m working towards over the course of the summer. - Joni Ortio
CALGARY, AB -- The second season of Joni Ortio’s two-year deal contains a one-way stipulation.
But the 23-year-old goaltender already has a one-way mentality. Ortio’s attention is focused solely on Calgary.
“My mindset going into camp is to make the team out of camp and not go to Adirondack at all,” Ortio said. “I can’t worry about that. At this point, it is crucial to get a lot of games in. I want them to be in the NHL and that’s the goal I’m working towards over the course of the summer.
“I’ll be prepared when training camp comes and challenge and push for that spot.”
Admittedly, signing a new contract brings Ortio one step closer to achieving that objective.
“That was actually our goal all along,” he said. “I wanted to get that one-way and there wasn’t much said that I wouldn’t get it but that was the goal all along. The ultimate goal is to play in the NHL and that’s one step closer to achieving that goal.”
His 2013-14 campaign certainly helped, too.
The native of Turku, FIN made four appearances with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, compiling a 3-1-0 record with a 1.01 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. In the AHL with the Abbotsford Heat, he posted a 27-8-0 record while his 2.33 goals against average ranked sixth amongst all keepers. His .926 save percentage was second only to Jake Allen, too.
In nine games for the Flames -- his first stint in the NHL -- Ortio went 4-4-0 with a 2.51 goals against average and .891 save percentage.
But Ortio could find himself back with the AHL's Adirondack Flames in 2014-15.
“Joni has a bright future with us and if it turns out that he’s in Adirondack, as I told him, that’s not a bad thing,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. “It allows him to continue to develop, continue to go through that process of becoming an NHL goaltender.
"To me, he’s hitting all the steps. This is a talented guy. He’s a driven guy. He’s a confident guy.”
There's only one Flames team on Ortio's radar, though, and it's the one that helped re-enforce he's ready for the NHL.
“For sure it did,” he said. “Like I said before my (NHL) debut, I’ve known for a while now I can actually play at that level. That was like the ultimate way to prove to myself and the rest of the people I can actually play at that level and compete and push for a starting job in the NHL.”
There’s plenty of opposition in Ortio’s way.
Karri Ramo has one year remaining on a one-way deal, while Treliving signed longtime Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller to a two-year pact when free agency opened July 1st.
The crease competition is by no means a coincidence. It's by the GM’s design.
“I think we’ve got three good goaltenders here who all want a bite of the apple,” Treliving said. “That only makes us better and that, to me in this business, it’s a competitive business and when you have competition, it brings out the best in everyone.
“That’s the goal. Bringing Joni into the mix now, it really just makes us deeper and stronger at the position.”
Competition isn’t about to discourage Ortio.
He’s up for the challenge that will come to a head in camp.
“The organization is big on competition,” he said. “They haven’t committed to one goalie for a long period of time. It generates competition, sure. I think that’s a good situation for me. There’s three goalies that can play in the NHL and it’s going to be an interesting training camp because we’re all pushing each other going forward and to be at our best all the time.
“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get back to Calgary and see all the guys and get back in action.”