|Essensa played four seasons of college hockey at Michigan State University from 1983-97, earning CCHA First Team All-Star honors in 1984-85 and a Second Team All-Star berth in 1985-86. He was drafted by Winnipeg as their fifth pick, 71st overall, in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft and played five-plus seasons in the Jets organization, including a career-best 33-win season in 1992-93. He played for six NHL teams over a 14-year professional career and played his final NHL season with the Buffalo Sabres in 2001-02. His NHL career record was 173-176-47 with a 3.15 goals against average and 18 shutouts in 446 games with Winnipeg, Detroit, Edmonton, Phoenix, Vancouver and Buffalo. Essensa and his wife Jeanine have three children, sons Josh, Ben and Jake.