Former ‘Voice of the Cents’ calls NHL games

By on October 11, 2017
Hosts Bhupinder Hundal, Randip Janda and Mantar Bhandal in studio during the Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi edition broadcast. (Photo courtesy of Mantar Bhandal).


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.

The Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi broadcast was even featured as a subject of an HBO documentary last year.

Learning to convert hockey slang to his native tongue hasn’t proved quite so simple, said Bhandal. He credited veteran Hockey Night commentator Bhupinder Hundal with helping to develop his Punjabi-hockey vocabulary.

Despite making his move to the top level of hockey, Bhandal said he remains extremely grateful to the Cents organization, his bosses at Q101, and the hockey community of Merritt for welcoming him with open arms for the 2016/17 season. Though he only spent a year with the Cents, Bhandal made many memorable calls during the Centennials playoff run, which included a number of overtime thrillers.

“What if Buckley hadn‘t scored that goal in game 6? What if the Cents hadn‘t made it out of the first round? I‘m fortunate that a lot of things went right for me to be in a position where I was able to leave behind some memories that can be celebrated forever in Merritt.“ said Bhandal.

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