After ‘Dream’ Debut With Capitals, Iorio Shifts Focus Forward
Washington Capitals defenseman Vincent Iorio discusses his NHL debut and how, despite living out his childhood dream, he wants to remain grounded and shift his focus forward.
Washington Capitals prospect Vincent Iorio couldn't have imagined a better NHL debut. With his family watching in San Jose, Iorio pulled off a picture-perfect give-and-go with Alex Ovechkin to assist on the captain's 815th career goal, marking Iorio's first NHL point en route to an 8-3 victory over the Sharks.
For the 20-year-old, it was a night that he won't forget, which was filled with adrenaline, ups and downs and a decent amount of ice time, with a little bit of first-game jitters for good measure.
"I told myself I wasn't gonna have any nerves. Then when I stepped out there, there's a couple," he explained. "First couple shifts, just getting used to the tempo, but after that, the guys helped me settle down and I thought, 'just take it from there.'"
Iorio finished the night with one assist, one takeaway, one block and a +/- rating of plus-2 through 14:48 minutes of ice time. He spent the majority of the team skating with his usual Hershey Bears defensive partner Gabriel Carlsson, but also got time operating with rookie Alex Alexeyev.
"We have some good chemistry going," Iorio noted. "So things are going well."
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Iorio's assist came toward the end of the game as Ovechkin scored his second goal of the night. For the 6-4, 200-pound defenseman, it was the moment of a lifetime and somewhat unexpected. After all, Iorio is still just a rookie at the AHL level and has just over 50 games of pro experience so far, and his NHL debut came earlier than imagined, with the team dealing with injuries and trade departures on the blue line. Not to mention, Iorio was only two years old when Ovechkin made his NHL debut, and almost 18 years later, the two were teaming up for a highlight-reel passing play and hard-earned tally to add to the blowout win in San Jose.
"I never thought I'd dream of that," Iorio smiled. "He's one of the greatest to ever play, if not the greatest. I look up to him, a lot of players look up to him, and I'm happy."
While Iorio's debut went according to plan and included some of the most memorable milestones out there, including the famous rookie lap, taking a picture with the puck from his first point and getting the rope from Tom Wilson as the team-selected player of the game, he wants to stay grounded and continue to show his NHL worth.
Right now, it's a marathon and not a sprint for No. 6, and while he'll hold his NHL debut close, he wants to do whatever he can to earn more games and start making his case for a full-time role in the future.
"I like to keep myself in the present, just stretching and stuff," Iorio said. "Realizing I have the Caps gear on and I'm part of this team now, it's pretty special and it's a childhood dream of mine for sure, but like I said, I just want to be in the present and focus."