Often heard but rarely seen, John-Paul Joubert (or, as he prefers, JP) impacts every single fan’s experience at the Compton Family Ice Arena. And, if the name does not sound familiar, perhaps you would know him if you heard him say his iconic, “HERE. COME. THE IRISH!” Or, you might recognize his reminder: “One minute remaining in the period.”
The in-stadium announcer has held his post for 10 years, dating back to the 2013-2014 season. And on Oct. 16, he will have announced 200 games for the Irish.
For as much as Joubert has become a part of the fabric of the Notre Dame Hockey experience, Irish Hockey impacted Joubert before he could even skate. A South Bend native, Joubert first learned how to play hockey in the old Notre Dame Joyce Center Arena. He learned to skate in the Joyce at 18 months old before playing his first game at 3-years-old as a member of the Irish Youth Hockey League (IYHL).
In fact, Joubert’s first time making an in-game announcement happened at a youth game at the tender age of 7 in the arena.
“I had been doing games from the time I was seven years old. My dad would bring me to the rink and let me sit in the penalty box. Everything was done pretty much by hand over there. But I actually announced my first game, it was actually kind of a mistake.”
Joubert’s father stepped away from the penalty box while running a youth hockey tournament. Two penalties occurred, so Joubert grabbed the microphone and made the call.
“My dad comes all the way from the other side of the area and is just screaming, ‘I told you not to touch anything.’ But, one of the kids from one of the teams said, ‘No, that was really good for someone so little.’”
Joubert may not have known it then, but it was just the first of hundreds of calls in an Irish hockey arena.
After that, he continued to play IYHL hockey before playing for the Saint Joseph High School team for all four years of his high school career. And while Joubert did not play hockey in college, he stuck around the game.
As a freshman at Lake Superior State University, Joubert assisted a U-11 team as a goalie coach. He then progressed to coaching the women’s club team. When he graduated, he returned home and continued coaching, both in the IYHL and at his alma mater, Saint Joseph.
In total, Joubert coached hockey for 25 years.
While Joubert began to build a coaching resume, he slowly worked on his announcing career. After his first controversial (at least to his father) call at seven, Joubert began to call high school hockey games.
“As I got older, I got to do high school games, eventually city championships and state championships. The IYHL was not only my upbringing as a player, but it was my upbringing as an announcer.”
As Joubert began to progress as an announcer, he began to get noticed by some Notre Dame staff.
“Molly [Mahoney, the Compton Arena programming and events program coordinator] had mentioned to me that there might be an opening eventually for a couple of games to be a substitute.”
Joubert was brought to a game as a trial run against Minnesota Duluth.
“They were getting ready to play Minnesota Duluth. I think it was that year. They gave me a pregame script from the Minnesota Duluth game, and unbeknownst to me at the time, they had people all over the arena hiding out, and apparently, they gave [Notre Dame] a good enough review.”
Joubert worked as a backup for a few games in November of 2012, covering the games against his alma mater Lake Superior State.
The hardest part of the job is pronunciation, according to Joubert, and something he strives to get right every single time.
“You may only get one chance to say a kid’s name. And you want to get it right. Because you don’t know if their family is in the stands.”
As he sits from his usual spot in the media box, Joubert looks over the ice, reflecting on his career. If you were to tell his 7-year-old self, the one who unknowingly set himself down this path, what his job has become, he would be in total awe.
“Seven-year-old me would say, ‘You have the greatest job at the greatest school to work for, in my opinion of one of the greatest college coaches that has ever coached. You get to watch great hockey. It’s the students, it’s the band, it’s great college hockey,’” Joubert said. “When you work in a place like Notre Dame, like Compton, and this place is packed, that energy pushes you to be the absolute greatest you can possibly be.”
Joubert has seen a lot of Irish hockey during his time as the in-stadium announcer. During his time, he has kept a record of how the team has performed in games he has called, and the Irish have a record of 113-68-16, 197 games in total.
Game 198 was against the USA Hockey National Development Program team Oct. 2. Game 199 will be this weekend against Northern Michigan on Oct. 14, and the significant milestone, Game 200, will follow on Oct. 16.
Though Joubert has had an incredibly long and successful announcing career, all he is, is grateful.
“Seeing where I started to now, it’s just been an absolutely incredible ride. In my opinion, it is more about the people that have helped me get where I am than the job that I do. I am not here without the help, the love, the faith, the constant positive energy that people who number in the thousands have given me.”
Contact Tom Zwiller at email@example.com