Nolan Kowal named new Raider play-by-play voice

Submitted Photo. Nolan Kowal is the play-by-play voice of the Prince Albert Raiders.

Raider fans will have a new voice to listen to during Raider broadcasts on 900 CKBI this season.

It was announced on Friday afternoon that Nolan Kowal will take over as the new radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Prince Albert Raiders for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Kowal replaces Rob Mahon, who recently left Prince Albert to take over as the Media Relations and Broadcast Director with the Brandon Wheat Kings, also of the Western Hockey League. Kowal previously served as the voice of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Estevan Bruins.

“I think the biggest thing for me is just being able to take that next step in my career.” Kowal said about his new position. “I have gotten a chance to do some major junior in Regina on TV, but this is an opportunity to do it on a full-time basis, just continuing to hone my craft. I feel like I got to a pretty high level here in Estevan with some of the hockey I got to call, but obviously there’s always room to improve and I think doing major junior a bit of a faster pace will allow me to continue to develop and get better as a broadcaster,” Kowal said.

“These jobs are highly coveted, and they don’t come around very often. I think in the WHL, there’s 22 jobs. I feel very fortunate to have gotten one now in PA and (I’m) just excited to get up there and introduce myself to a new community.”

Kowal is a graduate of the Creative Communications program at Red River College, where he specialized in journalism. Kowal is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Kowal has close ties with his predecessor in Mahon as they both graduated in the same class at Red River College and share a close friendship.

Having taken over both the previous vacancies Mahon has left in Estevan and Prince Albert, Kowal jokingly says he hadn’t been meaning to follow his close friend.

“We’ve stayed in close contact since then. He obviously had a hand in me getting my job in Estevan when he moved out to Prince Albert. I don’t know if he had quite as much influence up in Prince Albert as he did here, but it certainly didn’t hurt,” Kowal says.

“I’ve been kind of joking with some of our broadcasting colleagues in the SJHL and the WHL that I’m kind of following him around a little bit. It might look like that, and I guess I am, but it’s just kind of the way it’s worked out. It’s a small industry. We’re good friends and we stay in touch. Maybe I’ll just keep following him and hopefully it’s all the way to the pros one day.”

Kowal takes over the play-by-play headset at an exciting time in Hockeytown North. Although the Raiders missed out on playoff hockey last season, the future for the team looks bright. The Raiders made five selections in the top 50 of the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft, including first overall pick Daxon Rudolph and Riley Boychuk at second overall.

Kowal was the voice of the Estevan Bruins when they took home the Canterra Seeds Cup in 2022. He says he is excited to call games for a franchise that is hoping to compete for the Ed Chynoweth Cup in the near future.

“Speaking to Rob, he did tell me that they’re on the upswing. And I know speaking with the GM, Curtis Hunt earlier this (Friday) morning, he’s telling me they’re getting closer to being a contender again. They are on the on the upswing, which is great. Ryder Ritchie was the top rookie in the league, I’m looking forward to watching him continue to develop. I was spoiled here calling a championship with the Bruins, to be able to come to the WHL and call games for a team that’s getting better and hopefully competing for another championship sooner than later, it’s exciting.”

When asked about what Raider fans can expect when tuning in this season, Kowal says he strives to be professional on-air and make his broadcasts enjoyable to tune into, regardless of how closely you follow the team.

“I think I’m very descriptive and I think I paint the picture very well for the listener. I like to describe every inch of the ice, try to make the listener feel like they’re at the game, even though they’re not,” Kowal says.

“I think I take a pretty neutral and professional approach, definitely not a homer by any means. I think you’re always going to be a little bit slanted towards the team you’re covering, I do like to talk to both coaches and get both sides of the story heading into a game.”

“You’re either going to help that fan enjoy the game or you’re going to annoy them. So, I strive to really help the fans, or whether it’s other coaches, family members, parents or billets, I want to help them enjoy the game if they’re listening,” he added.

The Prince Albert Raiders begin the 2023-24 regular season on Friday, Sept. 22 when they welcome Pittsburgh Penguins 2023 first round pick Brayden Yager and the Moose Jaw Warriors to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.