ARLINGTON, V.A. — After a morning skate, Washington Capitals prospects Hendrix Lapierre and Vincent Iorio head to the locker room side by side, trying to hit the high notes as they harmonize together following a brief chat about music. Håkon Hanelt is waiting by the door, and they share a laugh before he passes by.
The Capitals organization brought the three together over the course of the last two years, as the trio has formed a close bond that goes far beyond the ice as they continue to evolve their game and work toward their dreams.
“Håkon Hanelt, we call him Hank,” Iorio, who goes by either Vincent, Vinny or “Vincenzo,” said. “Lappy’s super funny around him. And the three of us actually, we’re just three peas in a pod. It’s pretty funny.”
Lapierre and Iorio first met at a summer camp for the 2021 World Juniors. As fellow draft picks both taken at the top of Washington’s 2020 and 2021 draft classes, they shared quite a few things in common and started hanging out.
“First impression was good,” Lapierre smiled, adding, “We both knew we got drafted by Washington, so we kind of started talking and stuff. And then we saw each other again at camp and we already kind of knew each other a little bit.”
“Oh, he was pretty intimidating. Not gonna lie, just a big shot guy,” Iorio joked, as Lapierre stuck his tongue out at his teammate. “I was just drafted to the team, I was a little nervous. He was the only Washington prospect there, so I knew we would get along somehow. I didn’t think it’d be that guy, but he’s a little bit of a teddy bear. I thought he was just a big, scary French guy, but he’s a really good guy.”
Hanelt was also taken in the 2021 draft, going in the fifth round. The center first met both Lapierre and Iorio at 2021 rookie camp, where he roomed with Lapierre. From there, the three of them grew closer.
“Since then, we keep in touch all the time during the season,” Hanelt said. “We play each other too. It’s like we fit together, it’s awesome. We go out all the time, hanging around. I really love it with those two guys.”
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The three stick together, connecting through their sense of humor. Lapierre’s said to be the funniest of the bunch.
“We’ll make awkward jokes from time to time and funny stuff. We love to be here, we love having fun. So everyone’s just always laughing,” Lapierre smiled.
However, while they know how to have a good time, they also know when it’s time to flip the switch. After all, they’re living out their dreams and pursuing a full-time job in the NHL. So when it’s time to get to work, they push each other to succeed.
So, at the 2022 Capitals Development Camp, Lapierre and Iorio took on leadership roles. They were vocal in the dressing room, went first in line in the drills and showed their fellow prospects around.
That take-charge mentality brought the two closer together as well, and also showed them what it takes to have the right mindset at the NHL level. Lapierre and Iorio cited a “trickle-down effect;” they learned from the older guys what it takes to lead, and now share that responsibility of taking new players under their wing.
“As Vinny said, we’re two guys who like to have fun, but at the same time, know when it’s time to be serious and show the way, so I think we just clicked because of that,” Lapierre said. “So I think we just clicked because of that. I think we’re both enjoying the experience in Washington, which makes it very fun… Tom Wilson told me, ‘Some guys did it to me and I do it to you…’ that was kind of his reasoning. Guys did it to him, to make him feel at home, and I guess it’s the same thing for us now.”
Lapierre also did the same thing with Iorio when he first stepped into MedStar Capitals Iceplex. The 20-year-old gave him a rundown of how the NHL club operates, which helped him adjust — and helped him form a tighter bond with Lapierre.
“Lappy showed me the ropes a little bit, show me around, always making sure that I’m on time. And on time is always 10 minutes before, if you’re on time, you’re technically late,” Iorio said, as he and Lapierre smiled at each other “So, just little things like that to help ease the person in and make them feel comfortable and at home.”
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Beyond that, Iorio also said that it’s important for them to continue evolving their game so that they can make the pro jump in the next few seasons. Lapierre is looking to live up to expectations as a top-6 center, while Iorio is evolving into a puck-moving defenseman and trying to take pages out of John Carlson’s book. Hanelt, meanwhile, is a jack-of-all-trades forward but wants to show what he’s capable of as a top center.
“[We] realize that we’re nowhere near perfect. I don’t think anybody is,” Iorio added. “We have a lot of goals that we want to accomplish throughout our career. But we just got to take things day by day.”
“Feels awesome [to be here] because I finally can prove what I’m capable of,” Hanelt said.
During this past season, all three kept tabs on one another and also got to catch up between their busy schedules, whether it be through texts or FaceTime. Iorio watched Lapierre’s NHL debut after watching No. 29 make the team out of camp.
“For him to be at that stage, scoring big goals and cracking the roster, I mean, it’s some special,” Iorio beamed. “Really happy for him, but I’m telling you, he’s got some bigger things coming.”
Iorio also kept an eye on him during his 51-point campaign with the QMJHL‘s Acadie-Bathurst Titan this season, while Lapierre checked on Iorio during his career year in Brandon. The two also looked out for Hanelt, who spent about four and a half months off the ice after shoulder surgery. He had 10 points in 12 games during his first year with the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques and got to face off against Lapierre.
“We kept in touch quite a bit like every week, we talked, that’s for sure,” Lapierre said. “A little FaceTime from time to time… it was good to keep in contract and with the phones, it’s so easy. You really have no reason not to talk to anyone for one, two or three months. We kept in touch and now as soon as we came here, it wasn’t gonna be awkward. It was just like okay we continue where we’re on and we just try to keep the relationship going.”
The boys held a 3-on-3 tournament at #CapsDevCamp yesterday complete with a fantasy draft.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 14, 2022
When not playing hockey, the three spend a lot of their free time touring the District, exploring restaurants, watching TV and of course, focusing on rest and recovery while staying in shape. Hanelt has been on a Lucifer kick lately and likes to watch a lot of hockey, and Lapierre and Iorio make sure golf is playing on the TV whenever they can.
“[It gets] your mind straight again,” Hanelt noted.
Of course, they also share their differences. Iorio is the sharper dresser, while Lapierre is the joggers type of guy. Lapierre is said to have better taste in food.
“Why?” Lapierre asked Iorio, shooting him a deadpan look.
“You’ve been here longer,” he pointed out.
And, when it comes to music, Iorio is usually in charge of the aux cord. Hanelt isn’t a big music guy, and Lapierre likes to listen to music that reminds him of home. Iorio, on the other hand, likes pop and is admittedly a big Justin Bieber fan. He also listens to country, Jason Aldean and Sam Smith.
“Vinny listens to very emotional and romantic songs,” Lapierre joked, with Iorio intervening, “No, no.”
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“He likes everything. He always puts music in the room like he’s [parting] his hair and he’s like signing country and stuff like that,” Lapierre teased. “We’re like, ‘Vinny, shut up, man. Like you’re singing so bad.’”
“He’s got the voice of an angel,” Iorio noted of “Lappy.”
In the end, the three share brotherly love as they continue to chase their dream, and it’s that bond that they believe will lead them to the Capitals roster in the future.
“We have the same dream,” Lapierre said. “We will try to make, accomplish great things with the Washington organization. So I think right now we’re just focused on that and as Vinny said, it’s day by day… we just got to enjoy the time here with the new guys and then arrive at camp and be ready. We’re aiming towards the same dream which is very fun because we’re [in the same age group], so it’s awesome.”