This one is quite close to home. Mantar Bhandal was the voice of the Merritt Centennials during the 2016/2017 season of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. It’s the same league I’ve been calling in since 2011 for another team, however I stepped away from my duties in the 16/17 season.
Bhandal became the voice of the Centennials, but only lasted a season after electing to leave the position in the off-season. While I never had the chance to meet him, his energy and enthusiasm was infectious as his goal calls began to pick up more and more virality as the Centennials playoff run continued. Here’s his call of a Game 6 OT winner in the 2016 playoffs:
Now Mantar Bhandal is in the NHL. Not long after he announced his decision to leave Merritt to focus on other things, Hockey Night in Canada came knocking and now Bhandal is part of the Punjabi broadcast crew. It’s a hell of a story and one that Bhandal has been taking in stride when he was interviewed for a Merritt-based newspaper.
The meteoric rise through the ranks of play-by-play analysis continues for Mantar Bhandal, the former Merritt Centennials announcer who recently called his first NHL game on the weekend.
Only a year after calling his very first Centennials game for Q101 in Merritt, Bhandal was on national television, providing between-the-periods analysis at hockey’s highest level during the NHL’s opening weekend. Most surprising for him wasn’t his rapid rise through the broadcast ranks, but rather the language he was speaking while making his call.
Bhandal was recruited to be a part of the expansion of the “Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi” broadcast, which airs on the OMNI network every Saturday. The show isn’t simply a dub-over of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast — it features segments with Punjabi-speaking analysts between the periods, as well as pre- and post-game coverage.
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