The Brampton Battalion’s military theme extended beyond the name, the colour of the sweaters and the “Quartermaster” retail store.
The club eschewed the traditional announcement of “last minute to play in the period” in favour of “one minute to ceasefire.”
“It’s a real distinct announcement,” said Jason Davidson, who began making the call as the Battalion’s public-address announcer in 2005-06. “It’s something different, and they’ve kept it here, which is nice. The first time you hear it you might think, ‘What was that?’ but they really are keeping with the military theme. In eight seasons here I have never said ‘last minute to play in the period.’
“If you’re off by a second or a half-second, Scott Abbott notices right away, so my eyes are always on the clock when it’s winding down to one minute left.”
A 33-year-old native of Montreal, Davidson, who works as an associate producer for cbcsports.ca, succeeded Shadd Dales, who left to become the radio voice of the Windsor Spitfires.
“I was referred to this position by Brent Cousland, who was a former producer for Rogers. I met with Mike Griffin and Phil Ercolani, and they told me the job was mine if I wanted it. I did a couple of mike tests and I was good to go. It was a great gig to have during the hockey season.”
In addition to goals, assists, penalties and informing fans that a period or game was into its final minute, Davidson also announced countless between-periods promotions and mini-games involving youth hockey players.
“It was an intimidating gig when I started. I had to get used to the whole format and the certain announcements that have to come at certain times. But through repetition I got more comfortable in the role. I’m better on the mike when there’s a real jazzed-up crowd in here.”
Crowds at the Powerade Centre rarely were more jazzed up than in 2008-09, when the Battalion ousted the Belleville Bulls in six games to win the Eastern Conference title and advanced to the OHL Championship Series, where they lost in five games to the Windsor Spitfires.
“This place was rocking in 2009, and I remember the one call I didn’t want to screw up was when David Branch presented the Bobby Orr Trophy to Cody Hodgson. People always said there weren’t enough fans or they weren’t into it, but if you got more than 3,000 people in here this place was loud and I had a hard time hearing myself.”
The bilingual Davidson appreciated his perch above the media row at the Bunker even more after working some games at the 2011 Memorial Cup tournament, held at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.
“My spot here might be the best vantage point for an announcer in the OHL. The PA booth in Mississauga is tucked into a corner, and you don’t see all the action. You feel removed from the game because they have windows in the booth, so you can’t really hear the crowd. Here you can interact with the fans and you feel part of the game.”
Davidson, who won’t accompany the club to North Bay, eventually will make his distinctive end-of-period or end-of game call for the last time.
“It could get emotional for a lot of people who’ve been associated with this team for a long time. Sundays won’t be the same, I know that, and I guess I’ll watch a lot more football games. Some road trips to North Bay will probably be in order too. Even if I’m no longer working for the team, I’ll always feel a connection to it. I’ll support them, and it’s great to see the kind of setup they’re going to have in North Bay.”
Battalion president Mike Griffin said Davidson came a long way in his years as the club’s in-arena voice.
“He came in here as a nervous young guy. He came in wet behind the ears, and there were days that he came in knowing he was going to get a comment about what didn’t go right, but he just got better and better. He’s at the stage now where he doesn’t need a script. He knows what to say and when to say it. He was another real gem who was able to develop here and, if we could pick him up and take him to North Bay, we’d be very fortunate.”