Hendrix Lapierre had a whirlwind rookie season with the Hershey Bears. Not only did he win the Calder Cup in his first full year as a pro, but he cemented a spot in Bears history when he scored the game-tying goal in Game Seven against the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
Now, the 21-year-old once again has his sights set on Washington. Lapierre spoke to French-language outlet RDS while participating in a charity tournament near Montreal. He reflected back on his championship season with the Bears before discussing what he aims to do next.
“It’s been full of ups and downs for me personally. Of course, there were times that were easier than others. I absolutely come out a winner,” Lapierre said. “I think it was the year I learned the most in my career.”
Although he spent a six-game stint with the Capitals in 2021, Lapierre failed to crack the Caps’ roster this season and spent the year entirely in Hershey. He led the Bears in scoring by December, but struggled at points later in the season and was briefly a healthy scratch.
“As an offensive player, you try to bring attack. Sometimes it didn’t work that well,” he explained. ”I was doing video with the coaches and we try to learn from that. It is sure that there is perhaps a little pressure that I impose on myself. Not necessarily because I’m a first-round pick, but because I know what I can do. I know if I bring my best hockey every night, good things will happen. I just need to find a way to do this.”
Lapierre would record 30 points (15g, 15a) in the regular season, but his most memorable moment came in the playoffs. After the Bears dropped two straight shutouts to start the Finals against the Coachella Valley, they won three straight at home and ultimately pushed the series to Game Seven.
The Firebirds went up 2-0 before Connor McMichael brought the game within one midway through the second. Lapierre told RDS that the team still had faith they could pull out a victory.
“We were losing 2-0 and, as I said earlier, I didn’t really feel panic,” he said. ”It was a bit weird. All our veterans were thinking that everything is fine. We went for a goal on the power play. When we scored the first I said: ‘ok, **we’re going’“
Lapierre would even the score late in the second, tipping in a shot from close friend Vincent Iorio.
…AND LAPPY DRAWS US LEVEL!!!
🍏 Protas pic.twitter.com/03O9gEr5LF
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) June 22, 2023
Mike Vecchione would score the Calder-Cup-winning goal in overtime, giving the Bears a comeback victory in the game and the series alike. Lapierre described the elation:
“It’s probably the best moment of my career so far. Of course, my goal was fun , but that was all the work for the year, all the work for the playoffs. The ups and downs. All that. It was crazy.”
With training camp around the corner, Lapierre is honing in on the season to come. Though he will most likely spend another year developing in Hershey, he hopes to prove he can contribute at the NHL level. His time on the Capitals in 2021 only made him more determined.
“I saw what the guys were doing on a daily basis, it helped me a lot,” he said. ”It is sure that by tasting it two years ago, it makes you want to go back because you know what it is. I don’t think it’s a negative if I go back to the American League, but for sure I want to stay on top, and I’m going to do everything during camp to show that I want to stay on top. I know that with the work I put in every day, good things will happen.”
Headline photo: Ian Oland/RMNB
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