One of the finest power forwards in NCAA women’s hockey history, Jesse Scanzano finished her career with an impressive 225 points. With teammates such as Meghan Agosta, Bailey Bram, Vicki Bendus and Hilary Pattenden, Scanzano played for one of the greatest NCAA programs of the 2000s, the Mercyhurst Lakers.
Having played with Team Quebec at the Esso Women’s Nationals, Scanzano enjoyed gold with the Canadian Under-22 team at the 2010 MLP Nations Cup and won a silver medal with the Canadian senior team at the 2011 Four Nations Cup. As one of the top-5 picks of the 2011 CWHL Draft, for the Montreal Stars, Scanzano had great momentum going in.
One highlight of her first season in the CWHL was the opportunity to return to Mercyhurst as part of a one-game stint with the Brampton Thunder. To return as the opposition, however, was a different sensation.
“It was a little weird to go back (as the opposition). I was happy to see my fans. It felt good to see them and play in my home rink again. A fun game.”
While at Mercyhurst, the event that stood out for her was always playoff time. “My favorite time was the College Hockey America playoffs. Even if there were struggles throughout the year, we won the CHA Postseason title. The team came together and we were always ready for the playoffs.”
In her only season with the Furies, Scanzano commented on the difference compared to the NCAA game. “It was different, a learning experience. You get used to practice every day. In college, everything is set up for you. It was a good experience.”
Unfortunately, her first season in the CWHL was not a high-scoring one. With the Toronto Furies, she ranked seventh in team scoring, but had 13 points in 17 games. For Scanzano, who was a late cut for the Canadian squad that competed at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont, the 2011-12 hockey season did not end on a good note.
The events forced her to do some soul searching, even contemplating retirement. “I definitely did. I started thinking, when am I going to start my life? It was discouraging. Over the summer, I realized, I play because I love it. I am excited this year, because there is no stress.”
An added benefit of coming back home to Montreal is the opportunity to play with her former Mercyhurst teammate Meghan Agosta. “She was my roommate for three years at Mercyhurst, and my linemate for two and a half of those three years. We got to know each other well on ice. She is a good friend of mine.”
With Mercyhurst teammates like Kelley Steadman (drafted by Boston) and Bailey Bram (drafted by Brampton) joining the CWHL this season, Scanzano was asked if it will be strange to play against them for the first time. “I guess so. You get used to it because at Team Canada camps, teammates are there and sometimes you have to play against your teammates. Your opponent is not your friend, but off the ice, it’s 'Hi, how’s it going?'”
As she prepares for the upcoming season, the Stars might be the most talented team that she has ever suited up for. “Other than Team Canada, yes,” Scanzano chuckles. “I also think of Mercyhurst too. In my first year, at one point, there were seven of us that were on the Canadian Under-22 team. A talented team!”
Having spent so many years at the Under-22 and Senior levels for the Canadian National Team, her first experience wearing the Team Canada jersey is a treasured one.
“I was young. It was an Under 22 game and I was listening to the Canadian national anthem on the blue line. I was honored to be there. It was a great feeling.” Being named to the Senior Team for the first time also holds special memories for her. “You work so hard to make that team. It is a great feeling (to be named). To play at the 2011 Four Nations Cup, it was an honor.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated.”