By: Patrick Donnelly
By the time the 2019-20 season and her four years with the Boston University Terriers came to a close, Breanna Scarpaci became the program’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 287 in 138 games, 75 of which came in 36 games during her senior year.
The left-shot defender had 24 points (3g, 21a) and a plus-37 rating on her career, in addition to four assists and a plus-15 rating as a senior.
Scarpaci was named the inaugural recipient of the College Hockey Inc. Scholarship, a postgraduate honor awarded to a player who helps build the game through their support of the next generation of hockey players. The Washington, Mich. native started a learn-to-skate program for students at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) during her senior year at Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school.
With the Terriers, Scarpaci, who is proficient in sign language, maintained her efforts, helping out in camps and clinics, participating in postgame skates, and events with the East Coast Jumbos of the American Special Hockey Association.
On Friday, Scarpaci took the time to reflect on her run at BU, her heavy style of play, and what life holds for her next.
Patrick Donnelly: Starting things off, what does daily life look like for you these days with everything going on?
Breanna Scarpaci: It’s kind of crazy I guess. I wake up around 8 a.m. and take my dog for a jog or a walk, depending how the day goes. I would have class at 9 a.m. until about noon. Then, I’ll make some lunch and work on some homework before a break at about 3 p.m. to workout outside in front of the garage – whatever I’m feeling on a given day. Then, have some dinner, and either do more homework if I have it or just hang out with the family and watch some TV or whatever movie we pick each night.
PD: Looking at the hockey side of things, you lead the program in all-time blocked shots, which is something anyone watching you for the first time will pick up on. Has that always been a staple in your game or is that a niche you carved out as your career with BU went on?
BS: You know, I would probably say a little bit of both. I was always the defender in front of the net, who wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work – block the shots, take the hits, whatever it may be. Then, kind of throughout my time at BU, I realized that would be my role. I don’t mind it. I like it, obviously, that’s why I do it. I think it’s important for the team.
PD: Most nights it looked like you took a beating out there, whether it was just eating pucks or a tough collision, but you only missed nine games in four years. How often, if at all, did you play hurt out there?
BS: Unfortunately, quite a lot. It seemed to be a more familiar state, going to be bandaged up towards the end of the year. In most cases, I came into the season fresh, but then it was kind of maintenance, as we like to call it, towards the end.
PD: You guys were a pretty experienced group on defense with four seniors, but sophomore Alex Allan has seen a lot of important minutes and you add two talented freshmen in Nadia Mattivi and Grace Parker. What was it like as a group mentoring them and helping them along?
BS: Oh it was a breeze. All of them are super coachable and eager to take in any information or any type of advice we have for them going into big games or playoff games, whatever it may be. They taught us just as much as we taught them, so it was a good experience overall. With us leaving, I wouldn’t want anyone left other than them.
PD: Looking back on the Beanpot, what was it like for not only you but also the group to get the win in 2019, knowing how much it meant to the program?
BS: Absolutely amazing. There are a few words that can describe how we felt about that in the moment. Honestly, still now it gets brought up and we have a big smile, ear-to-ear, about it. The following we had at the game alone, it was at Harvard, but it felt like a home game for us, which is just incredible.
To be able to have that trophy, hold it above our heads, and share it with the band and all our fans at pretty much midnight was amazing. Hearing from all the alumni about how happy they are and everything like that was truly amazing.
PD: Of all the accomplishments you had during your career at BU, what stands out to you the most?
BS: Other than the Beanpot, I would just say being able to put that jersey on, go through that tunnel everyday, see that BU sign above us, and walk onto that Walter Brown ice is sufficient for me to carry for a long time.
PD: Now that you’re wrapping up your time at BU, if you could say one thing to either incoming recruits or younger players on the team, what would it be?
BS: As cliche as it sounds, I think I’d just say to enjoy it because it flies by. I feel like last year I was just a freshman, or maybe even a sophomore – I guess I’m kind of old now. Just enjoy every minute of it and take it in. Enjoy your teammates because sometimes you only get them for one year or you may get them for all four. Whatever it is, you have them as friends and family for the rest of your life.
PD: You were awarded the first ever College Hockey Inc. Scholarship for your extensive efforts to help grow the game between your time at Shattuck and BU. What drew you to that side of the game and giving back?
BS: I just feel like in Michigan in particular, there’s a huge fan base and push for men’s hockey and men’s college hockey. Growing up, we never really had that for girls. I played boys hockey growing up, and then when I switched, I had to drive an hour to an hour and a half to practice everyday.
So, it was important for me to kind of be a figure to the younger girls, saying “hey, if you want to do this, you can totally do this. It may not be the easiest, but it’s totally possible to follow your dreams and get where you want to get.”
It was important to me for that matter, and that kind of followed me throughout my career. So, I just found little ways to give back, and make sure that everyone who wants to be included is included.
PD: You’ll be part of BU’s physical therapy doctoral program next year, but there’s a lot of uncertainty these days. How nice is it to kind of have that security in terms of what’s next for you?
BS: It’s very nice. Talking with the girls in my class, we’ve all been kind of talking about what our plans are. Some of us are traveling, some are playing abroad, or just going to school. It’s interesting that everyone kind of finds their own path, and we kind of move on, I guess, which is sad.
It’s very comforting knowing I’ll still have the team around and I can bug them when I want. I get to pursue my dream education, which is very nice.
PD: On top of the doctorate program, is there any hockey in your future either with BU in some way or professionally with the NWHL or PWHPA?
BS: I’m not sure right now, especially with everything going on. Things are a little crazy, but whether it’s professionally or in a beer league, I’m not sure I can hang up the skates just yet.
This interview has been edited and condensed.