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Cundari has pair of points as Heat knock off Rampage

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The Canadian Press
12/8/2013 1:06:36 AM
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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Ben Street and Joni Ortio continue to carry the Abbotsford Heat night in, night out.

Ortio picked up his American Hockey League-leading 11th victory and Street scored his team-high 14th of the season in the Heat's 5-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage Saturday night.

Street is the reigning AHL player of the month and has 21 points in his last 14 games.

Ortio, meanwhile, made 28 saves and was the game's first star.

"We're obviously very confident with Joni and he's very confident," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "We feel if we are out of position, not in a proper posture that we'd like to be in, defensively, we feel he's had our back. He had another strong performance. He had to make some critical saves at critical times."

That included a five-on-three and a four-on-three.

"I can't say enough about Joni," said Brett Olson, who had two assists on the night. "He's been our backbone. He's making saves when he's not supposed to make them and he's making saves when he should. So that helps, especially on the penalty kill. On the five-on-three he made a heck of an effort to get across but they made a nice play. But every other save he's made, some of them have been pretty miraculous."

Though the Rampage did score two power play goals, the Heat were definite winners on special teams, going 2 for 3 Saturday and 5 for 11 over the weekend sweep of the Rampage.

"Everyone is in sync right now," said Olson.

Ortio gave his teammates credit as well, though.

"It was huge killing off that four-on-three in the first period, with huge blocks from Street and (John) Ramage there," said the Finnish netminder. "We must have blocked like 20 something shots tonight and that makes my job a lot easier. Sometimes I haven't got a clue where the puck goes."

Mark Cundari scored the eventual winner and had an assist while Ben Hanowski, Markus Granlund and Max Reinhart also tallied for Abbotsford (19-6-2).

John Matsumoto and Bobby Butler replied for San Antonio (10-12-2) while Dov Grumet-Morris made 21 saves.

The Heat drew first blood with a power play goal at 8:42 of the first period.

Cundari's point shot was stopped by Grumet-Morris but Hanowski was there to jam the puck past the sprawling goalie for his ninth of the season.

The Rampage tied the game with a power-play goal of their own in the first period. While failing to get much in the way of chances on the two-man advantage, they scored just after the initial penalty expired. Denny Urban fed it down low to Joey Crabb at the side of the net, who quickly fed a cross-crease pass to Matsumoto at the far post. The Ottawa native waited for Ortio to go down before roofing the puck for his fifth goal of the campaign.

Street put the Heat back on top with only 28 seconds to play in the second period after taking a chip pass from Max Reinhart in full stride and quickly firing the rolling puck past Grumet-Morris.

"The difference this weekend was getting goals at critical times, and who better to get it than Ben Street," said Ward. "If you look at our team, and who looks like a real man out there, it's Ben compared to the rest. His posture, his shift to shift consistency, and he's just as good with the puck as he is without it."

Cundari gave the Heat a two-goal cushion with a one-timer from the point that beat Grumet-Morris through the five-hole.

"They over-committed and Mark was able to step into it and put a good one on net," said Olson, who teed up the defenceman's slap shot. "Josh Jooris did a great job screening in front - I don't think the goalie saw it. A good play off the face-off; Hanowski's been doing great on the draws on the left side."

Butler beat Ortio top corner from the top of the circle with just over four minutes remaining to bring the Rampage within one goal.

But then Granlund picked up his 10th of the season with 1:36 to play, extending his point streak to nine games and Reinhart added an empty netter for his fifth of the year.

"We had a better emotional response to the game," said Ward. "At times I felt we were in control of the game and like any game at this level there were times we were not. We had better shift consistency; we didn't have a lot of holes. The even keeled-ness is one of their biggest strength as a team. They're never too high and never too low."

Abbotsford Heat (Photo: TSN)

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(Photo: TSN)
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