HERSHEY, PA — Hershey Bears defenseman Vincent Iorio is a good guy and a rule follower. On the ice as a rookie, Iorio committed the fewest amount of penalties on the Bears, 6 PIMs, amongst players who suited up in 42 or more games during the regular season (63). Off-the-ice, Iorio has an infectious personality and is seemingly always smiling. He’s the first guy to hold open a door or bring coffee for a friend.
But the defenseman recently got the attention of the AHL, like the league as a whole, after one of his superstitions got a wee bit too stitious.
The revelation came as I was talking to Iorio about his equipment and he began dishing about his pregame routines.
“When I get dressed, I’ll put everything, I’ll put my left side on before my right, like skates, shin pads, elbow pads, gloves,” Iorio said of his superstitions. “But other than that, I’m not picky at all.”
(That sounds pretty picky.)
There’s another Iorioism, too. Like Dallas Stars’ superstar Tyler Seguin, Iorio has to be the last player that touches the ice after warmups.
“Last year, I did it in junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings and I started doing it here,” Iorio said. “I’m a little superstitious sometimes, but it is what it is. When we started winning a lot of games, we went down a good stretch, I was like, ‘Ah, it’s something I do. Something I have to do now.'”
At first, the warmup routine started innocently enough. Iorio would out-wait his own Bears’ teammates by skating extra laps, firing more shots, and doing some extra stick-handling before jumping off the ice. Here’s an example via Inside AHL Hockey’s Julie Beidler.
— Beids (@juliebeidler) May 11, 2023
When other AHL teams got wind of Iorio’s superstition, they tried to mess with him by having a player stay late such as goaltender Garrett Sparks, engaging in a game of (hockey) chicken. Ah, the game inside the game.
— Brian (@Puckstop31_) April 7, 2023
Iorio responded by out-witting his opponents who were trying to out-wit him. Iorio would retreat to the tunnel and hide. Then once the last opposing player left and Vinny confirmed their bench was cleared, he would come back out, touch the ice one last time, and retreat to the locker room.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) April 5, 2023
“I got in trouble for a minute from the league actually,” Iorio, now a self-admitted Bad Boy, said with a wry style. “There’s a couple of times where the backup goalie would look, and he’d make sure that I wasn’t on. So I would go to go down the tunnel and then wait until he was gone and then jump back out.”
That did not sit well with the AHL.
“That’s when I got in trouble,” Iorio said. “So I have to be like right off the ice as soon as it hits zeros.”
While the post-buzzer antics are over, Iorio has remained the last player on the ice for warmups during the postseason. And he’s continued his super-close passing routine with best friend Hendrix Lapierre.
While it may seem ridiculous to some, Iorio’s preparation is an example of just how much he cares about succeeding and wanting to win. He puts all of himself into the team and the sport, and it’s one of the reasons why he’s the Capitals’ top defense prospect.
Headline photo: Tori Hartman/Hershey Bears
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