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Iorio Ready To Make Most Of Unexpected Call-Up To Capitals: ‘It’s Jaw-Dropping’

Washington Capitals prospect Vincent Iorio discusses his call-up and his mindset as he prepares to make his NHL debut at 20 when the team faces the San Jose Sharks.



After Hershey Bears practice on Friday, Washington Capitals prospect Vincent Iorio made his way off the ice and looked over at roommate and teammate Hendrix Lapierre, who winked and raised his eyebrows. Then, Todd Nelson pulled Iorio and Gabriel Carlsson into his office, and while Carlsson thought it was to go over video, Iorio had a feeling based on Lapierre's behavior that it was likely a call-up. He was right.

With Nick Jensen and Martin Fehervary hurt in Wednesday's OT win over the Anaheim Ducks, the Capitals recalled Iorio and Carlsson, who play on the second pairing together with the Bears, to help fill the void, as the team was left operating with just four defensemen following a number of pre-deadline deals.

For Iorio, it was a whirlwind as he and Carlsson drove from Hershey to Washington, caught a flight out of Dulles and flew to San Francisco before hitching a ride to the San Jose Sharks practice facility. The two made it in time for practice, where Iorio was starstruck as he took the ice with his idols, including Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

"It's pretty cool," Iorio said. "You watch the guys on TV all the time, so it's pretty jaw-dropping. But I'm just very happy to be here."

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The 6-4, 200-pound blueliner is in the middle of his first pro season, as he just made the jump from the WHL to the AHL this year. Through 51 games so far, Iorio has two goals and 15 assists, along with a +/- of plus-12. He is known for his strong skating and ability to battle hard and throw his weight around, and he also makes a good first pass, doesn't shy away from joining the rush and owns a booming point shot.

Still, the recall was a bit surprising for Iorio, who just turned 20 in November and is three-fourths of the way through his rookie campaign down in the minors. But with the Capitals four points out of a playoff spot and needing a right-hand shot, it was time for him to come up. His father, who came to Hershey the weekend to watch him play, is now flying out to San Jose, while his mother and sister are also coming from Vancouver and Ohio State University to watch Iorio make his NHL debut on Saturday against the Sharks.

"You never know when the call's gonna happen, so you just gotta stay ready at all times," Iorio said.

Jensen and Fehervary's injuries aren't as serious or severe as originally thought, so it's unclear how long Iorio will be up at the NHL level. Washington made sure to take the proper steps through paper moves to ensure that Iorio is eligible to return and compete in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

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For now, though, Iorio isn't looking ahead, and he's staying focused on making the most of his opportunity and helping the Capitals win. And while it's a dream, he knows there's a tall task at hand, and he wants to show that he's ready for the call.

"[I'm focused on] just getting out there, getting a feel for the puck," Iorio said. "I gotta treat things day by day, game by game and, like I said, I'm just here to help the team win as best as I can.

"I'm a pretty happy guy, so it's pretty cool. It's a childhood dream for sure, but I'm here now. I gotta stay in the present, and that's all that matters."

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