Brandon, MB – After a hockey season unlike any other, a pair of Brandon Wheat Kings achieved life-long dreams this weekend, hearing their names called at the NHL Entry Draft.
Defenseman Vincent Iorio was taken 55th overall by the Washington Capitals while forward Jake Chiasson stays close to home as the 116th overall pick of the Edmonton Oilers.
Iorio, who led all Wheat King defenseman with four powerplay goals during the abbreviated “Hub” season in Regina becomes the first Wheat King drafted by Washington since the Capitals took Eric Fehr 18th overall in 2003.
“I’m still in shock right now,” a smiling Iorio told Washington reports on Saturday. “It’s a blessing to be a part of a great organization and it’s something I’m very proud of.”
Despite the challenges that the pandemic put in front of him, the newest member of the Caps felt that the time helped prepare him for the next level.
“Having a long layoff was hard on a lot of players,” added Iorio. “I tried to use the time to get better, go to the gym and keep skating. It was almost an advantage to have that much time off heading into this season.”
The Coquitlam, BC native finished the Subway Cup title season with 5 goals, 7 assists in 22 games.
Meanwhile, just down the road in Abbottsford, Jake Chiasson gathered with family and friends including fellow WHL’ers Gage Concalves (Everett), Graham Sward (Spokane) and Mikey Milne (Winnipeg) to watch the weekend festivities. When the Edmonton Oilers called his name, all the weight from the unique, stressful “Hub” season was lifted.
“We were pretty aware by the end of the summer what our season was going to look like,” Chiasson told Jamie Umbach of EdmontonOilers.com “We had really good communication with Brandon, which thankfully allowed me to stay focused.”
“I had the guys around supporting me and handling my stress a bit with the draft. I had the best guys around me in Brandon and I can’t say enough about the coaching staff and team there that supported me through this journey and my first few years there.”
Chiasson finished the season 6th in Wheat Kings scoring, notching 9 goals, 11 asissts and 20 points, which is five points higher than 2019/20 in a quarter of the games.
Following in the footsteps of his uncle Doug Lidster, a two time Stanley Cup Champion, the newest member of the Oilers is hoping that draft day is just the start of a long hockey career.
“Uncle Doug made a hell of a career for himself,” Chiasson said. “He was in my ear a lot through this process so having a guy like that to lean on and talk to allowed me to just trust my game and have fun with it.”
Chiasson is the first ever Wheat King to be drafted by the Oilers.
In 1980, Walt Poddubny heard his name called by the Oilers, however he was a member of the OHA’s Kingston Canadians at the time. He left the Wheat Kings in 78-79 to return home to Ontario.
With the selections of Iorio and Chiasson, the Wheat Kings have had six NHL draft picks in the last two years, and 21 in the last decade.