Joe Montesano calling the St. Michael's Buzzers season opener against the North York Rangers.  Jed Bick/Toronto Observer

Junior hockey play-by-play man does double duty

Joe Montesano passionately calls games for two OJHL teams

Joe Montesano’s passion for hockey play-by-play is so great, announcing for one team is not enough.

Montesano calls games in the Ontario Junior Hockey League for both the St. Michael’s Buzzers and the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Being employed by two teams in any league would be a tough assignment, but Montesano is able to juggle both.

The 30-year-old’s career started in the OJHL, with the Villanova Knights from 2007-2011. He then joined the Jr. Canadiens in August of 2011 and became a dual-team announcer, joining the Buzzers one year later.

Following league protocol, Montesano only calls the home team’s broadcasts. The Buzzers usually play at home on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. The Jr. Canadiens are often in their home barn on Sunday evenings while rarely hosting games on Friday nights.

“Sundays can be a full load having two different games at two different locations,” said Montesano. “But both arenas aren’t very far from each other, and when you love hockey, it’s easy to make two hockey games.”

The Buzzers and Jr. Canadiens play each other frequently. In those situations, the Toronto native calls the game for the home team, while trying not to show bias.

“People know me and that I call for both teams so if I ever happen to give more energy for the away team accidentally, no one is going to call me on it,” said Montesano.

“I know the coaches like to joke with me and say sometimes I give too much energy for the visiting team but we just laugh about it at the end of the day.”

The business of doing play-by-play will always come with criticism and Montesano knows that he has his detractors. He mentions that his style of broadcasting does not always go over well with listeners.

“I’m very loud,” said Montesano. “If there is a goal, I get excited very quickly and I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I try to bring the excitement of the game to my broadcasts. I’ve been told people don’t like me and I know that.”

Rick Jeanneret, the long-time voice of the Buffalo Sabres, and Joe Bowen, who calls games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, are two of Montesano’s broadcasting idols. Meeting Bowen in 2007 at a Maple Leafs event was a dream come true. 

“I’ve actually never been starstruck, but meeting Joe was the only time I was,” said Montesano. “I’ve met many actors and hockey players, but I was never in awe like I was with Joe. I grew up listening to him when I was a kid.”

During the meeting with Bowen, he sought advice from the veteran on how to improve and advance through the ranks.

“He told me to keep on going for my dream,” said Montesano. “I told him I wanted his job. He said, ‘Over my dead body.’ Then we both started laughing. He’s a really nice guy, he was a class act when I met him.”

Montesano always knew he wanted to do play-by-play since he was young and took Broadcast Journalism at Toronto’s Seneca College. 

He emailed the Villanova Knights in 2007 asking if they needed the services of an announcer, which they did, and by 2008 he was hired full time doing play-by-play, public address announcing and communications for the team.  

Montesano is well-known around the league, and well-liked by his fellow employees on the Jr. Canadiens and Buzzers.

“Joe is one of a kind,” said Buzzers assistant coach Vic Criscuolo. “He does a lot of work for the league. If you follow him on social media, he’s always plugging our team and plugging the league so he does a lot of good for both.”

Some day, Montesano would love to advance to a higher league. That being said, he also appreciates where he is now since the players in the OJHL show such love and passion for the game, just like he does for broadcasting.

Despite his cynics, he will always be able to stay confident after receiving some reassuring praise from Sabres broadcaster Dan Dunleavy.

“Dunleavy once heard my calls and said I had nothing to worry about regarding my voice,” said Montesano. “So when I heard that, I knew I was ok.”