Road trips forge father-son bond – Behind the Mask with Olivier Mantha

Vees goalie Olivier Mantha writes about his journey as a goalie

  • Nov. 21, 2013 4:00 p.m.
OLIVIER MANTHA of the Penticton Vees played three seasons for the Collège Laflèche Dragons in Quebec.

OLIVIER MANTHA of the Penticton Vees played three seasons for the Collège Laflèche Dragons in Quebec.

Sports editor’s note: Throughout the season, Hunter Miska and Olivier Mantha will write a column for the Penticton Western News giving readers insight into their lives either on the ice or away from the rink.

At the age of five, I started to play hockey for my hometown team in La Tuque, Que. I started as a defenceman because my dad was one. He really wanted me to play the best position in his mind. One year later in a friendly game, I wore pads for the first time and fell in love with the position. A goalie was born to the annoyance of my dad, who really wanted me to be the future Raymond Bourque.

I played my minor hockey with older players because goalies were really rare in La Tuque. It was a really nice period of my career with my dad teaching me how to play with the best of his knowledge. From the age of nine to 13, I played in towns two hours from my house to get a better level of competition. Three to five times a week my dad and I were driving in the snowy roads for four hours, only for practices. I developed a close connection with my dad with all those trips and he has always been there for me in the good and tough moments.

When I was 14, my sister got really sick and it changed all our priorities. Consequently I decided to stop playing hockey so that my parents could take care of my sister and it worked, she is fine now. Two years later, I put the pads back on. I was missing the game too much and I promised myself to play hockey until my body failed, or until I get too old. I restarted slowly, playing for my hometown team for two years.

Then college arrived. In Québec, colleges are different than here and the United States. It’s like pre-university. I still wanted to play and school was, and still is, really important for me. Thus, I decided to play college and I combined study and hockey for three years. That’s where the Vees organization saw me and offered me a chance to be one of their goalies. Here I am.

That’s the story of my career so far and I look forward to add good chapters to this career this year with the Vees and the next four years with the University of Alaska Anchorage.