Growing up as a young hockey fan in White Rock, B.C., Ethan Scardina used to attend Surrey Eagles games as a kid, dreaming of one day making it to the BCHL and beyond.
Fast forward a few years and Scardina is now in a starring role with the Nanaimo Clippers and gets to come into South Surrey Arena and play on that same rink as the opposition.
“It’s one of the coolest parts about playing in the BCHL,” he said, “Going back home and playing in front of family and friends and knowing you used to watch the team as a kid and now you’re one of them is really cool.”
Scardina played his youth hockey for the Semihamoo Minor Hockey Association, playing home games in the same arena as the Eagles. The Scardina family was quite prominent in Semihamoo at the time as Ethan’s older brother Keenan also played there and their dad Mike helped coach as well.
“It was pretty cool to have my dad there as a role model, teaching me how to play hockey,” said Scardina. “He’s always been there for me and supported me throughout my whole journey. He really kind of paved the way for me and gave me the right opportunities to succeed.”
In 2014, Scardina joined the Delta Hockey Academy and played there for the next three years.
In his second year in Delta, he was coached by Shane Kuss, a former South Surrey Eagle and the BCHL’s all-time leading scorer with 418 career points.
“That was really cool,” said Scardina. “He was a very skilled player in this league and he was able to help me and the whole team improve our skills when it comes to scoring and how to maneuver the puck.”
After getting into one game as an affiliate for the Vernon Vipers during his last season in Delta, it was time for Scardina to make the transition to the BCHL full-time in 2017-18 when he became a member of the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
“It was a bit faster, obviously, but I felt like I was prepared to make that jump,” he said. “Playing for Delta made it pretty easy for me. That league is very good. The BCHL is another step, but I felt like I was prepared to come in the league and I had a pretty good rookie season.”
He scored 14 goals and added 12 assists in 48 games that year, but his true breakout wouldn’t come until the next season when he had a change of scenery.
He was dealt to Nanaimo that summer as part of a six-player swap and immediately excelled in his new home, putting up 56 points in 54 regular-season games to lead the Clippers in scoring.
“My mentality that offseason was just to come back stronger the next year,” said Scardina. “After I got traded, it was kind of a fresh start for me. I came back and just wanted to be a better player and knew that I could have an opportunity to play college hockey or even go on further than that.”
After establishing himself as a high-end player in the BCHL, that college commitment was the one thing missing from his resume heading into this season. After a slow start after returning from injury to start the year, Scardina picked the perfect time to get back to his high-scoring ways.
He had four goals and three assists in two games at the 2019 BCHL Showcase Festival in October in front of over 100 NCAA and NHL scouts and that’s when the conversations about his college hockey future really picked up.
After those two games, he began speaking with Bowling Green State University assistant coach Maco Balkovec and just a few weeks later he announced his commitment to the program.
“Me and my dad went down there a few weeks before and I just fell in love with it,” said Scardina. “I thought it was the perfect place for me. They have a great culture down there with great characters on the team. All the coaching staff are very good people. I just felt like it was the right fit.”
Next season will be another big transition for Scardina as he heads to the NCAA, but as he’s proved at the Academy and BCHL levels, he will be more than up to the task.