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

Vees goalie Olivier Mantha writes about his journey as a goalie

  • Thu Nov 21st, 2013 4:00pm
  • Vees

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.