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Capitals’ Lapierre, Iorio Will Start Season With Hershey Bears

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Washington Capitals
(Photo courtesy of Zack Fisch/Hershey Bears)

Washington Capitals top prospects Hendrix Lapierre and Vincent Iorio will take their next step toward the NHL and play professional North American hockey this season. After a strong training camp, the two have made the Hershey Bears‘ opening night roster and will start the season at the AHL after years in juniors.

Both Lapierre and Iorio went at the top of their respective Capitals draft classes, as Lapierre went 22nd overall in 2020 while Iorio went 55th overall in 2021. The two are good friends and leaders and appear to have graduated from years playing in the CHL.

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Lapierre played in his third QMJHL season in 2021-22, lacing ’em up for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan following a trade from the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the offseason. He had a strong year, putting up 21 goals and 30 assists in just 40 games. He also put on more muscle and got better with his shot, positioning, two-way game and face-off ability, and he’s also more confident and willing to engage in puck battles.

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The 20-year-old had a strong Capitals development and rookie camp as well but didn’t necessarily stand out at main camp. Ultimately, Washington sent him to Hershey to continue his development. In the AHL, he’ll get more ice time and responsibility. That will allow him to better transition to the pros while getting used to playing against grown men.

Meanwhile, Iorio will also get to make his AHL debut. He recorded a career-high 44 points in 60 WHL games for the Brandon Wheat Kings last season and also played top minutes in his fourth year in the W. His standout play also earned him a call-up to the Bears as a “black ace” for the Calder Cup Playoffs, though he never played. Still, that would inspire him to push toward the jump to the pros.

‘Always The Happy Kid’: Iorio Talks Big Personality & Pursuit Of Capitals

The 19-year-old would put on quite a bit of muscle and add to his 6-3, 205-pound frame while also working on his speed, skating, mobility and physicality. He was among the standouts at development and rookie camp and was among the top up-and-coming defensemen at main camp. Iorio also picked up his first NHL preseason point this year while also displaying his wicked points hot and offensive ability. Now in the AHL, he’ll look to keep the good times rolling.

Lapierre and Iorio will also likely earn call-ups given their development and growth over the years. If Lapierre is promoted, it will be his first time back in the NHL since 2021. He made last year’s Capitals opening night roster and played six games while also scoring in his NHL debut. Iorio would make his NHL debut if recalled and dressed this season.

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Hershey kicks off its season on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils’ affiliate Utica Comets. Meanwhile, the Bears will also have new captains to open the season. Dylan McIlrath will wear the “C.” Aaron Ness and Mike Vecchione will wear the “A’s.”

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