The Abbotsford Heat's new play-by-play voice has yet to call his first professional hockey game, but he's already got a memorable call on his resumé.
In October of last year, Austin Azurdia of the B.C. Hockey League's Langley Rivermen scored an electrifying goal with 0.3 seconds left in the third period to lift his team to a 4-3 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings, and Brandon Astle's ecstatic call of the play made it a viral sensation (see video below).
"This kid could run for mayor! Is this actually happening? . . . SportsCentre, get it ready, that is the highlight of the year," bellowed Astle, his voice cracking.
The video clip has more than 107,000 views on YouTube, and TSN, Sportsnet, ESPN and Sports Illustrated (among others) all featured it on their websites or broadcasts.
Of course, success for a play-by-play broadcaster isn't just defined by those rare highlight-reel moments – it's about consistent excellence over the course of a long season, and that's what the Heat believe they have in the 24-year-old Astle.
"It was a pretty big moment in my broadcasting career, and obviously that goal call will be something that I'll never forget," Astle told The News.
"But I don't think I got this (Heat) job just because of that one goal call. I want to prove to people that I'm more than a one-trick pony, and that I'm a polished broadcaster all-around."
Astle, who began his new job with the Heat on Monday, will also serve as the AHL team's media relations co-ordinator.
"His skill set really fit," Heat president Ryan Walter said of Astle. "He's a young person who's going to help us grow."
Astle's passion for play-by-play was sparked at the age of 10, when he started calling the action as he and his friends played street hockey on a cul-de-sac in his native Port Coquitlam.
Following graduation from Riverside Secondary in 2006, he enrolled in the broadcasting program at Vancouver's Columbia Academy, which in turn led to a job with the BCHL's Langley Chiefs. He worked three years with that franchise, then spent an additional two years with the new Langley team, the Rivermen, after the Chiefs moved to Chilliwack. He was also the Rivermen's media relations officer and ticket manager.
"When this opportunity (with the Heat) presented itself, I jumped on it and thankfully got the job," he said. "Calling professional games has always been a dream of mine ever since I was a young boy."
Astle replaces Ryan Pinder, whom the Heat parted ways with in June. He'd spent the previous two seasons in the play-by-play chair.
– with files from Gary Ahuja, Langley Times