ARLINGTON, V.A. — After a rigorous on-ice drill at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, blueliner Vincent Iorio got up after falling to his knees, immediately grabbing onto center Hendrix Lapierre. The two have been all smiles and joking around over the first couple of days of development camp, while also staying focused on the ice and leading the forward and defensive groups.
Their bond has gone beyond the ice, as the two have become nearly inseparable over the course of their time with the Capitals.
“I don’t know,” Iorio said with a laugh when asked how that dynamic came about. “He’s a really funny guy. I’m a funny guy… I don’t know.”
Despite growing up on completely different sides of Canada, with Iorio hailing from Coquitlam, B.C. and Lapierre from Gatineau, Quebec, both come from somewhat similar pro backgrounds, having played in the CHL before being taken at the top of their respective draft classes. Iorio and Lapierre first met back in late September, when both attended Washington’s 3-day rookie camp before the main training camp. It was an automatic connection between the two, with both of them exchanging quick jokes, laughs and smiles on and off the ice.
“We’ve clicked ever since last year. He’s a really good guy. I can’t tell you why, but we just have,” Iorio said.
And Hendrix wins pic.twitter.com/MwCSsZVgxB
— Sammi Silber (@sammisilber) July 11, 2022
Lapierre went 22nd in the 2020 NHL Draft, while Iorio went 55th in 2021. Both are coming off career years, as Lapierre dished 51 points in 41 games with the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens while Iorio dished 44 points in 60 games with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Lapierre also got an extended look with the Capitals and played in six games with the big club, where he recorded his first NHL goal. The whole time, Iorio had his back from Brandon.
“[We kept in touch] tons. Tons,” Iorio said. “I was very happy when he was here and he scored the goal and he’s sticking around. I was texting him all the time, ‘how’s it going,’ this and that. And when he spent time in Acadie-Bathurst, just keeping tabs with him. So it was really good, it was awesome.”
Lapierre also couldn’t say enough about “Vinny.”
“[It’s] very fun, he’s a good guy and he’s a hard worker, too,” Lapierre added. “He’s fun to be around.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Why The Capitals Elected To Not Qualify Samsonov
The two share similar interests and spend a lot of time off the ice together. Both are roommates during this week’s development camp and have plans to explore D.C. But, they are prioritizing their on-ice work and recovery, and also need to stay near a TV to tune into golf with The Open kicking off.
“It’s pretty funny. We joke a lot in the room and we like to do the same things pretty much. You know, watch golf on TV and stuff like that,” Lapierre shared. “We clicked last year… I know he’s not going to distract me in a negative way.”
“We obviously need to focus on hockey here, we have a lot of long days. So making sure that we both recover, that’s one thing he really preaches and what I also preach.”
And, of course, as close friends do, they compete — A lot.
“It’s kind of a competition between the two, who can recover more and be the better person the next day,” Iorio said.
Ultimately, though, both are rooting for each other, and have also taken it upon themselves to serve a leadership role for their fellow prospects.
“Hopefully [we] can help some of the younger guys here at camp kind of show them the ropes a bit, myself and Lappy,” Iorio said.
Looking at the road ahead, both are eager to evolve their game and get to the NHL level. Lapierre’s goal is to compete for a full-time roster spot at training camp and earn a permanent stay up with the Capitals. Iorio is doing the same, as he is excited to make the pro transition but faces tough competition for a likely-vacant spot on the left side.
“[Peter Laviolette] talked to us about, you know, just be ready and show what you’re made of,” Lapierre said. “I think, as they’ve said, they don’t really care where you’re drafted. You know, everyone’s here on the same level. And so, on the ice, you got to prove that you’re the best… just a message just to motivate us a little bit and it was awesome to see everyone again.”