By Ian Oland
Vincent Iorio has been a revelation during his rookie season with the Hershey Bears. Now, due to injuries to two regulars, Nick Jensen and Martin Fehervary, the Coquitlam, British Columbia native will make his NHL debut against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, March 4.
Iorio, the Capitals’ first overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, will become only the fourth defenseman from his draft class to make his big-league debut joining Owen Power, Buffalo Sabres (1st overall); Brandt Clarke, LA Kings (8th); and JJ Moser, Arizona Coyotes (60th).
The 20-year-old, who is considered the top defensive prospect in Washington’s system, participated in Capitals practice on Friday.
“It’s pretty cool,” Iorio said. “You watch the guys on TV all the time. It’s pretty jaw-dropping. I’m just happy to be here.”
"I'm a pretty happy guy, so obviously it's pretty cool – it's a childhood dream of mine for sure. But I'm here now, I got to stay in the present and that's all that matters."
Vincent Iorio discusses his call-up to the parent club.#ALLCAPS | @MedStarHealth pic.twitter.com/3rShba6HXY
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 3, 2023
Speaking with reporters after the skate, Iorio revealed how he first found out about his big career accomplishment.
“[On Thursday] after practice, Nelly (Coach Todd Nelson) pulled Carly (Gabriel Carlsson) and I into his office,” Iorio said. “Carly thought, because we were D partners down in Hershey, that were going to go over a couple (video) clips. But Lappy had an anonymous tip that I had been called up so he gave me a couple winks and I kind of knew beforehand.”
Iorio reenacted Lapierre’s eyebrow raise so all the reporters could properly understand the vibes he got.
Iorio and Lapierre are best friends and roommates in Hershey.
Iorio said both he and fellow callup, Gabriel Carlsson, drove from Hershey to Washington after meeting with Nelson and then took a flight from Dulles to San Francisco. A car service brought them both to the team hotel.
“I’m a pretty happy guy, so obviously it’s pretty cool,” Iorio said. “It’s a childhood dream of mine for sure. But I’m here now, I got to stay in the present and that’s all that matters.”
It's a game from the rafters at the Shark Tank. @Capitals PreGame Live gets us started at 5:30 pm E on @NBCSWashington. #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/2BEPAOFg55
— Joe Beninati (@JoeBpXp) March 4, 2023
Everyone from Iorio’s immediate family — including his mom (Jennifer), dad (Mario), sister (Olivia), and grandparents (Gabe and Rose) — will be at SAP Center for the game, though the call-up actually came at an awkward time for his pops.
“My parents are going to come out. It’s kind of crazy. My dad is actually in Hershey right now,” Iorio said laughing. “He came to watch me play (there). He’s going to fly out of New York to here. My mom is in Vancouver. My sister is in Ohio State right now so she’s going to trip out too. So it’ll just be the three of them.”
Quirky note on Iorio: he will wear No. 6, which is as it should be for a guy whose initials are VI.
Only other NHLer I know of (could be more) to wear his initials (translated from Roman) as his uniform No. is Chicago-born Dman Ivan Irwin (1952-58) who wore No. 2 with NYR.
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) March 4, 2023
During his time in Hershey, the 6’4”, 205-pound defenseman is tied for first among Hershey defensemen in assists (15), second in points (17), and tied for second in plus/minus (+12). But it’s his moxie and joy for the game that has rubbed off on his teammates.
“Vinny shows up every day at the rink, a fun-loving guy, joking around, but you can see it on the ice,” Malenstyn said recently in Hershey. “He’s got a ton of poise, he’s got a ton of skill and I don’t think it’s going to take him very long to make that jump. I think he’s got a lot of attributes – he moves really well, he’s a big guy, he can handle himself. I think he’s going to make that transition really easily to the next level and I think it’s going to be really good for this team.”
“You never know when the call is going to happen,” Iorio said smiling.
All set. pic.twitter.com/b4FgZeHvEx
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 4, 2023
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