Everyone in the dressing room, in the city of Calgary, and even in the city of Chicago, knew the task in front of Reto Berra. Not only was Sunday his first National Hockey League game, the recently called up Calgary Flames goalie was set to debut on the road against the defending Stanley Cup champions at Chicago’s United Center — one of the loudest buildings in the league where, right off the hop, over 20,000 fans set the tone and scream through an emotional rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. That, alone, is enough to get the blood pumping. “It was crazy awesome,” the bubbly 26-year-old Swiss netminder said. “I almost cried there. Like, my hair was standing up. The guys told me a little bit what to expect, but when you’re out there as a goalie . . . it’s really unbelievable. “I was really nervous, but I knew I didn’t have much to lose against the Stanley Cup winning team.” So, what does the Swiss lad do? Looks settled off the hop. Stops 29 of 30 shots to keep the action a 1-1 tie through two periods of play. With his team ahead 2-1, he nearly wards off a five-on-three Blackhawks’ advantage in the third but shakes off Marian Hossa’s equalizer and marches overtime. Sweats through 44 shots at the game’s end. And, with Kris Russell sealing it stick side on Chicago goalie Corey Crawford 1:32 into the extra frame, Berra and the Flames nail a 3-2 road victory. “Very proud of Reto,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “Just the poise he showed throughout the game. Perfect control on every shot. The two shots that beat him were perfect shots. “When you feel your goalie is on the game, every shot is not an adventure. Players feed off it. “You could tell from the bench.” Following Friday’s 4-3 home loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Flames put goaltender Joey MacDonald on waivers and shipped him to the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Heat on Sunday. MacDonald had played seven games in Calgary this season, registering a 3-3-1 record along with a 3.17 GAA and a .885% save percentage. But it was decided the Flames’ wanted to give Berra a look — so why not throw him into the deep end against the Blackhawks? So, he’d met up the team in Chicago on Saturday night along with defenceman Chad Billins, also called up from the Heat.
Berra shines in debut, leading Flames to victory over Blackhawks
Calgary Herald | Nov 4