By now you’ve probably heard the call… “BoninoBoninoBoninoBoninoBonino!!!”
It’s the product of the Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi team, uniquely Canadian… and just a taste of the exciting brand of broadcasting that’s making waves the world over.
They’re proving that even without a Canadian team in the playoffs, there’s no reason fans can’t go wild.
LISTEN: The Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi team join Lynda Steele
Singh says that particular piece of magic came from an error earlier in the playoff run when the Penguins were facing the Capitals. In his pre-game notes he’d accidentally put Bonino down for all three forward positions, which got the team joking “Bonino Bonino Bonino.”
When Bonino actually scored, Singh says it was in his head and he just went with it.
“And it went crazy back then. We’ve had so many requests from viewers and fans all over North America that they wanted to hear it again, so I was waiting – okay if he scores a big goal, it’s the overtime winner or some sort of huge goal in the Stanley cup final I’ll do it… and Game One he scores the game winning goal with just minutes to go I just had no choice, I had to do it.”
Now it’s taken on a life of it’s own – spawning “Bonino Bonino Bonino!” T-shirts, and even making it’s way to the Pens’ locker room where teammates are saying it to the forward.
But it’s not just the Bonino call – the team has worked all kinds of pop culture references into calls, or classic Punjabi songs like this one with Nikita Kucherov:
Singh says the team has gotten some recognition in Canada, but this is their first time penetrating the US, driven in part by their social media team’s efforts to get the calls online.
He says it’s exciting because it’s a chance to introduce Punjabi culture to people who may not know it.
Pandher says it works because hockey can be so universal.
“The name doesn’t change. Bonino is Bonino in every language. And a goal is a goal. We’re kind of like the Spanish announcers- we’re just loud. Punjabis are very loud and we’re vibrant with our dances and whatever may be… so just a little bit louder.”
The team says growing up watching hockey, they’ve all had broadcasting idols of their own.
For Pandher, it’s Bob Cole and Jim Robson who did play by play right here on CKNW. Harniryan says he’s learned plenty from the way Kelly Hrudey preps for games.
Hundal says without local inspiration, they’d never have made it this far.
“The Vancouver guys, obviously growing up here Jim Robosn has been huge, and I’ve spent some time with John Shorthouse too, he’s amazing and has been a great friend to the show. Without listening to what these incredible broadcasters have done and we’ve been able to pick up from them – that’s how we’re able to translate what they’ve done into another language and give our own little twist.”
But now that they’re making waves its their turn to be inspiring the next generation – something particularly exciting when it comes to Punjabi kids who might not have seen someone on screen in this role who looks like them.
“I think the one thing that is really nice to see is that these young kids who perhaps may not for whatever reason think that they could potentially be a hockey broadcaster can now somehow through us conquer that dream, and I think that’s kind of unique.”