One play, two records.
With a Philippe Maillet feed to Matt Moulson at the back post, a pair of Ontario Reign franchise records fell in the team’s 2018-19 finale.
Moulson’s tally was his 28th of the season, separating himself from forward Jonny Brodzinski, who scored 27 goals during the 2016-17 campaign, previously the franchise’s AHL record. Maillet’s helper was his 37th of the season, which surpassed T.J. Hensick’s total of 36 in that same 2016-17 campaign. Maillet added one additional assist late in the game, bringing his total to 38 assists as the new mark to beat.
“To be honest, I wasn’t even aware of the record, but it’s obviously good to get something in the franchise’s history,” Maillet said. “I think I got the assist on Mouls’ goal for the record too so that’s a little special. It’s been an up and down season for our team overall, so a little record there feels good.”
Reign Head Coach Mike Stothers was happy to see Maillet reach the accomplishment in the final game of the season and saw notable improvement in his forward from where he began his rookie campaign, to where he ended his sophomore season.
Maillet was a fixture in the Ontario lineup – he, Moulson and forward Sam Herr were the only three skaters to appear in all 68 Reign games this season. The Quebec native skated all throughout the Ontario forward corps this season, playing both at center and wing, and both sides at that, on a variety of different lines and roles on special teams.
“I think this year was a better year for [Maillet],” Stothers said. “He’s always been kind of streaky and I don’t think we went as long with the droughts, where he wasn’t being creative. He was brought in here to be an offensive guy and he’s been moved around from line to line. He plays the middle, he plays the wing, he plays the off-wing and he does it all well for us. He had a good season, pretty sure he played every game, shows some good durability for a man of smaller stature and he’s capable of making some big plays. He made some terrific passes as of late, he’s been on fire. Good for him, and it’s a pleasure to have him in the lineup.”
Maillet built upon what was a strong end to the 2017-18 season, when he established himself as an offensive contributor in the American Hockey League. In the second half of his rookie season, Maillet totaled 31 points (15-16-31) and a +10 rating from 33 games played. He led the Reign in goals during that stretch, with his 15 tallies tied for tenth in the AHL throughout that 33-game span. Maillet collected a point in 21 of the 33 games and never went back-to-back games without picking up a point.
In Year 2, Maillet increased his final point total from 36 to 54, which placed him second on the Reign behind only Moulson’s 62 points.
“I’m more comfortable on the ice, second season, so I know what to expect,” Maillet said. “Stutts, our coaches, know what to expect of me and I try to bring everything to the table every night. It [was] a good season.”
Maillet’s assist went to the veteran Moulson, who added to the list of accomplishments that he’s garnished with the Reign. Moulson now holds both Ontario’s single-season goal and point records, with the latter set on March 27.
The single-season point record surpassed that of his brother-in-law Sean Backman, who had 55 points in the Reign’s inaugural season in 2015-16. For Moulson, however, the individual accomplishment didn’t count for much when the team’s performance wasn’t where he or his teammates wanted it to be.
“You want to win games,” Moulson said after setting that first record. “That’s all it boils down to. I don’t really put much stock into [individual accomplishments]. When you’re looked upon to get goals and produce for the team, but you’re not winning, it’s tough to really say that you’re doing a good job. I think the only good about that is that I beat my brother in law, but that’s about it.”
Moulson’s campaign also included his 900th professional regular-season game, which came in November in Grand Rapids, and the North York, ONT native sits at 955 career regular-season games played as a professional, with the prestigious 1,000 game mark a distinct possibility next season, wherever that season may be played. Moulson joined Ontario captain Brett Sutter in the milestone department from this past season, as the Reign center skated in his 750th and 800th career AHL regular-season games and his 850th regular-season game overall as a professional.
The now 35-year-old Moulson, who will turn 36 early in the 2019-20 season, has indicated that he hopes to play again next season and Stothers has certainly voiced his desire for Moulson to return to the Reign for a third go-around.
“I’ve made it known that I want Mouly to come back, hopefully we don’t have any more announcements of some of my favorite players retiring, because that’s hard on the emotions,” Stothers said. “I hope Mouly comes back and I certainly want him back, I’ve made it known to the Kings organization that I think he’s a great vet and if you’re trying to develop some young players, you need quality guys like him around. I think he wants to, so hopefully him and Sutts will be [back], I hope.”
As for Maillet, the 26-year-old forward is a free agent on July 1, after he completed his second AHL contract with the Reign. Will he be back for a third? Maillet expressed a comfort level playing in Southern California and has enjoyed the success he’s had as a part of the Ontario organization.
“Yeah, I feel comfortable here, I mean it’s been a great two years so far,” Maillet said to the thought of coming back next season. “I don’t know what the future holds for me, I have to sit down and see what are the options, but it’s always good to try to come back to the team you had success [with].”