Jacob Maillet a contributor in multiple ways for the Ottawa 67’s

“But any time the puck goes in the other team’s net, I’m super pumped.”

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A total of 10 assists were awarded to Ottawa 67’s in their most recent thumping of the Niagara IceDogs on Friday night, and, surprisingly, Jacob Maillet didn’t pick up a single one of them.

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Now, neither did more than half of his teammates, and Maillet was once again a contributor in other faucets of the 7-1 victory — which came one week and one day after Ottawa’s 8-2 win at the St. Catharines Meridian Centre, home of the lowly ‘Dogs — but, when it comes to apples, the soon-to-be 21-year-old from Dundas has recently produced enough to make a pie, crumble and a crisp.

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The reigning Ontario Hockey League player of the week had 11 helpers in his previous five games, including four the last time Niagara was the opponent.

As Matt Damon said after scoring Minnie Driver’s phone number in Good Will Hunting, “How do ya like them apples?”

“It was a good week,” said Maillet, who has two goals and 17 assists and a plus-2 rating in 25 games since being acquired from the Windsor Spitfires at the OHL trade deadline in January. “My teammates were helping me out and getting open, and it’s nice to find them and for them to score.”

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Maillet has always been more of a table setter than a finisher. In 249 OHL games with Guelph, Windsor and Ottawa, he has 49 goals and 115 assists.

“I know I can make some plays, and I was kind of just a little snakebitten before, I think,” said the 6-1, 193-pound centre. “But any time the puck goes in the other team’s net, I’m super pumped. Obviously I hope I can bury some coming down (the stretch) here, too, but it’s always nice, whoever is scoring our goals.”

Maillet was one of three overagers that 67’s general manager James Boyd acquired when shuffling his deck and leadership group at the deadline.

Also brought in were Braeden Kressler, who has 11 goals, 19 assists and a plus-15 rating in 25 games, while defenceman Samuel Mayer has eight goals, 11 assists and a plus-7 rating, also in 25 games.

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Boyd viewed Maillet as “a top player in the league for a long time” who “very quietly goes about his business.”

Maillett has lived up to that billing while filling multiple needs in barber pole jerseys.

“Jacob is steady, 100 per cent steady,” assistant coach Paul Stoykewych said. “He’s reliable in the defensive zone. He’s a fantastic faceoff centreman. He’s always in the right position. And Jake brings that calmness to the group. He’s that 20-year-old leader, he’s not outspoken, but kind of does his own thing a little bit, and guys follow along.

“Jake’s very reliable and plays all situations. He plays on our power play, was on our penalty kill, and takes big draws in the defensive zone. So he’s been a really nice addition to our team.”

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Such attributes will be relied on as the season continues to wind down.

Especially in the so very tight Eastern Conference.

With two weeks left, heading into Saturday’s action, the top six teams were separated by four points.

When the 67’s host the Mississauga Steelheads on Sunday (2 p.m.), they will be playing a team they have just moved ahead of for fifth place.

Nine days earlier, Henry Mews scored in overtime as the 67’s edged the Steelheads 4-3 in Mississauga.

“It’s hard at this time of year not to look at the standings,” Stoykewych said. “But we harp on it all the time, our details, and it’s 67’s winning hockey. If we’re not on our game, if we’re not on our details, we’re gonna let any team in the game. If we come out, we play our game, we’re hard on face-offs, we stick within our structure and we start hunting, we become the aggressor, we take it to pretty well any team in this league. It’s important every night, regardless of who you’re playing, top team in the standings, bottom team in the standings, we really try and get the best effort out of everyone.

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“Sunday is going to be a great test,” he added. “Our guys continue building we continue building. We’ve got eight games to fine tune things, and we’re going to be at our absolute best to come playoff time.”

Yes, the 67’s clinched a playoff spot for the ninth straight season when they crushed Niagara last week.

This spring, they’ll be looking to make up for last year’s playoffs, when, after setting a franchise record for most regular-season wins with 51, they were eliminated by the Peterborough Petes in the second round.

“It’s always an amazing feeling to play that much longer,” Kressler said of clinching. “You hopefully go on that big stretch. We’re obviously capable of winning our side and making our way to the Memorial Cup, so it’s exciting.”

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But that’s not until near the end of March. In the meantime, the 67’s will work on building momentum.

“These games are big, whether people see it or not,” Kressler said. “We have our own little meetings, and we obviously tell each other how important these are because these are the games that lead to the playoffs, and these are the ones that set you set the tone and show you that you’re ready for playoffs. So you know, we’ll take these games and we won’t take them for granted.”

The coaches will pound that message home, but it’s important the leaders do as well.

It’s just another way a guy like Maillett can assist the 67’s in reaching the ultimate goal.


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