A native of Tarrytown, N.Y., Pesce played minor hockey in New Jersey before enrolling at the University of New Hampshire. He was selected in the third round (No. 66) by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2013 NHL Draft following his freshman season, then played two more seasons at New Hampshire, where he scored 11 goals and 43 points in 110 games.
Though he has enough skill to work the power play, Pesce is considered more of a defensive-oriented defenseman. He skipped his senior college season to sign a three-year entry level contract with Carolina on March 27, 2015.