It’s never to late when it comes to hockey dreams. At 28 years old Philippe Maillet is about to make his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals today when the Caps take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 1pm.
The diminutive highly skilled scoring forward from Lachenaie, Quebec has undoubtedly taken the road less traveled to accomplish his dream.
After a stellar four year career in the QMJHL with the Victoriaville Tigres, the undrafted forward chose to attend AUS and USports powerhouse University of New Brunswick.
Maillet starred at UNB for four seasons amassing 166 points in 101 games.
“Phil was a dynamic player for us,” said longtime UNB Head Coach Gardnier MacDougall.
“Phil came to us and won AUS Rookie of Year, but one thing I always like about him was he just kept getting better, there was continuous improvement.”
MacDougall credits Maillet’s skill and competitive nature as his strongest attributes.
“Phil treated practice like a game that’s one of the reasons why he continued to improve and that’s why he’s reached the level where he is today.”
Maillet’s incredible run at UNB was capped off by two National Championships, Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year.
“Phil has great vision and skill, but the intangibles like his compete level, work ethic and his attitude plus his leadership grew as well over his time with us,” MacDougall said proudly.
“Players come to UNB to get better and win championships and move onto a pro career, so he’s certainly at the elite level for our program now for what he has achieved so far.”
MacDougall was quick to deflect any of the attention today.
“It’s about the program,” MacDougall said when asked what it meant to him personally to see Maillet reach hockey’s highest level.
“We have five outstanding coaches and terrific support at UNB and from our Alumni.”
“It’s the program and getting the right people and putting the structure and culture in place to have those people continue to grow and reach their dream.”
“It’s great that he’s getting the opportunity today and I’m sure he’ll make the best of it for whatever is there for him today.”
The highly touted play maker signed on with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League at the end of 2016-2017 season.
In 140 games over two seasons with the Reign Maillet scored 34 goals and 56 assists.
On July 1, 2019 Maillet signed a two year, two-way contract with the Washington Capitals. Last season with the Hersey Bears, Maillet continued to put up numbers at an alarming rate leading the team in scoring before the horrific COVID-19 pandemic ended the season.
You see it’s never too late, when your driven by the dream.
The undrafted kid that everyone thought was too small for the NHL is about to prove all those critics wrong.
Maillet is a perfect example of a player who never stopped believing in himself, his talent and the process.
Skill, passion, dedication, and an unwavering desire to get to hockey’s highest level has always fuelled his journey.
Philippe Maillet has earned every opportunity that has ever come his way in the game. It’s never too late when it comes to hockey dreams and playing in the National Hockey League.
Unfortunately, given the pandemic, his family and friends won’t be able to be there to watch in person and celebrate, but there’s no question the City of Fredericton and Victoriaville will be glued to their televisions.