CALGARY, AB --
If there is one thing netminder Joni Ortio
is looking forward to this season, it's a sense of stability.
Over the course of the 2010-11 campaign, Ortio played for eight different teams in an effort to gain as much ice time as possible. He suited up for 15 contests with Turku of SM-liiga, the best league in Finland, but played in second division leagues and in the junior ranks. He also was able to get his feet wet in the AHL last season with one game with the Abbotsford Heat.
"The most important thing for me was to get a lot of games. That wasn't always possible on my own team so I just played a little here and there."
All of that bouncing around will be a thing of the past now that Ortio is expected to head to Abbotsford this year.
"It's exciting," he smiled. "Obviously a big step for me to come all the way here. Last year, I had a chance to be with the guys for about three weeks and get to know all the guys. The team seems great and I love the place so I'm so excited to come here."
Ortio's last season can best be described as a roller-coaster ride. While the teams he played for did not fair well, the netminder's play has been praised by coaches, scouts and teammates.
"Our team had a tough season," he said of Turku. "We left the last season as defending champs then lost 17 games straight so that's not good. It was a hard time for us ... I think the season could have gone better than it did but in the end I feel like every chance I got to play, I played pretty good. I'm quite happy about my season."
He also played well at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships.
"The one thing I'm most happy and impressed about is at the World Juniors because a year ago, my World Juniors didn't go exactly as planned. The goal was to bounce back and play well. I did so that I'm happy about."
Drafted in the sixth-round (171st overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Ortio has already surpassed expectations placed on him by outside sources. His positioning, lateral movement and hand and foot speed rival most netminders of his age and experience. Much like his idol Miikka Kiprusoff
, he is level-headed and has a calming effect on those playing in front of him.
Over the course of development camp, Ortio worked with new Flames goaltending coach Clint Malarchuk. The 20 year-old soaked up all of the advice offered to him and felt the time with Malarchuk was incredibly beneficial for his development.
"He seems like a great guy. Obviously he knows a lot about goaltending. He had a long career in the NHL as a player and as a coach so I think I can learn a lot from him."
After development camp concluded, Ortio went back to Turku to continue his off-season training. He'll back the trek across the Atlantic once again in September to take part in training camp and the Young Stars tournament.
"Obviously I'm looking forward to that tournament and obviously the main camp. It's all quite new to me so I'm really looking forward to it."Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson