The national anthem of Switzerland may become a pregame ritual.
The Spokane Chiefs honored recently acquired left winger Alessio Bertaggia before facing off against Everett Saturday night in front of 6,628 in the Arena.
The 19-year-old from Lugano, Switzerland, by way of a trade with Brandon, responded with a hat trick to spark a 6-3, come-from-behind win over the Silvertips.
“That was really nice; it got me pumped up,” Bertaggia said of the pregame honor. “It was good for me to score some goals, but the most important thing was that we got the win. Now we have until midnight to celebrate and then we can get right back to it again (Saturday) night.”
Celebration was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind one period into the Western Hockey League showdown.
Spokane started slowly, falling behind 2-0 13 minutes into the game. The Chiefs gave up a power-play goal by Everett’s Joshua Winquist in a 5-on-3 situation 5 minutes in, then allowed Brayden Low to redirect a shot while standing directly in front of goaltender Garret Hughson.
“I think we just got rattled – we got rattled by the refs and we got rattled by some calls,” coach Don Nachbauer said. “We just stopped skating.”
Connor Chartier provided a spark late in the first period, battling for a loose puck in the Everett crease and poking it past keeper Austin Lotz.
“It was good to see Charty get a goal,” Nachbauer said. “He’s been snake-bit lately and he deserved one.”
After intermission, the Chiefs started to skate. And when a team that can skate as fast as Spokane skates hard, good things have a way of happening.
Riley Whittingham pounced on a loose puck to the right of Lotz 3 minutes into the period to even the score, only to see Winquist put the Silvertips back in front 2 minutes later when he slapped home a rebound.
And then Bertaggia went from spark to flame.
The 5-foot-9 spark plug with a powerful shot tucked a rebound underneath Lotz with 2 minutes left in the second period to even the score again, then scored a power-play goal at the 6:30 mark of the third to give the Chiefs the lead.
Blake Gow added a power-play goal with 17:47 left and Bertaggia earned his hat trick scoring into an empty net with 8 seconds left.
The Chiefs were without leading scorer Todd Fiddler, and that forced Nachbauer to juggle his lineup.
“For me, it was more about creating lines to match up with what (Everett) was doing,” he said. “It’s tough to be without a guy like Fiddler.”
Bertaggia started on the second line, but spent most of the game alongside center Mike Aviani and right winger Mitch Holmberg.
“Hockey is hockey,” Nachbauer said. “Alessio is the kind of guy who can play with anyone.”
“The guys have been good to me since I got here and they make me feel right at home,” he said. “There’s a lot of character on this team. I think we just need to get back to doing the basic things right now. We can’t worry about what happened yesterday. The only thing we can control is tomorrow, and tomorrow we have another game.”
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