CALGARY, AB -- He may not be known to Canadian hockey fans, but Reto Berra has built up quite the resume in European hockey circles.
In the last few years, the 26-year-old netminding prospect acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the trade for Jay Bouwmeester has been named the Swiss Goaltender of the Year, won a Swiss A League championship, and donned his national colours at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship and IIHF World Hockey Championships.
The Flames also received defenceman Mark Cundari and St. Louis’ 2013 first round draft pick in the Bouwmeester deal.
Berra, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pounds, is a native of Bulach, Switzerland.
After playing with the EHC Bulach youth team, he got his first taste of international hockey with Team Switzerland at the 2005 IIHF U18 World Hockey Championships.
He followed it up as the starter for the Swiss at the 2006 IIHF U20 World Junior Hockey Championship where he had a 2.34 GAA and .910 save percentage in six games. Following his performance, he was drafted by the Blues in the 4th round (106th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
He had a second appearance at the World Juniors the following season when he posted a 3-3-0 record with a 3.17 GAA and .899 save percentage.
From there, he was the backup goalie for a few different teams in the Swiss A League – winning the Swiss A League title with HC Davos in 2009 -- before he became a starter with the EHC Biel-Bienne in 2009-10. Since then, he’s developed into one of the top goalies in Swiss hockey circles.
In 2011-12, he was awarded the Swiss A League Goalie of the Year after a season where he posted a 2.44 GAA and .916 save percentage in 49 games. He also spent 14 games with the Swiss National Team that year, including four matches at the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship.
Due to the NHL work stoppage, it was a different look Biel team for the first half of this season. NHL stars Tyler Seguin and Patrick Kane helped the team earn their second-straight playoff berth, with Berra owning a stat line of 3.01 GAA and .906 save percentage in 49 games.
In the first round, Biel faced off against the top team in the Swiss A League, HC Fribourg-Gotteron. After falling down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, Biel-Bienne stormed back to push it to seven games. Unfortunately, Berra’s season ended in Game 7 on March 16.
In a newspaper article published in February, it stated that Berra’s contract with Biel-Bienne ended after the year, and he would have the chance to play hockey in North America for the 2013-14 season.