The box score from Sunday’s contest could have read, “Jake Mooney 3, Tufts 0,” but of course, it didn’t.
Hockey wins are never the product of a one-man effort and Mooney would be the first to say so, the first guy to tell you that the pucks are going in for him mostly because of his Manhattanville teammates.
“Being surrounded by good players is huge,” said Mooney, who is fresh from ECAC West player of the week honors. “Obviously, I’m capitalizing right now and it’s nice to have a hot stick, but I think having a good group around you is crucial to success and that’s helped me out, for sure.”
And Mooney has returned the favor.
The junior winger has potted five goals in the Valiants’ last three games – including his first career hat trick which accounted for all three Manhattanville goals against the Jumbos. Not by coincidence, the Vals won ’em all.
“Our power play is pretty hot right now,” said Mooney. “We’re doing a good job of capitalizing.”
Mooney, who transferred from Plattsburgh after two seasons, is making capital gains, too, with his increased ice time.
Last year, when he saw action in just 11 games – with just a goal and a pair of assists for his effort – was particularly disappointing to him.
After doing a personal rethink, Mooney decided to search for a better fit.
He found it, among coach Arlen Marshall’s top-six forward group.
“I got a better appreciation being able to play just because I struggled a bit last year and wasn’t able to play in all the games,” said Mooney. “You realize that it’s short-lived and you only get four years, so you have to work hard to get in the lineup every day.”
Mooney expected that the shift in schools would bring about a few new wrinkles, but he’s handled those as surely as he handles a sharp pass out through the neutral zone.
“There were differences,” he said. “But it’s still college hockey at an elite level, so there were some similarities coming in. I really like the atmosphere in the dressing room when I first came here. It was really easy to adjust. The coaches have shown a lot of confidence in me, which has also helped.”
The recent surge has improved the Valiants’ mark to 6-4-0 (3-3-0 in conference).
Mooney said that as a newcomer with a set of fresh eyes, he’s seen his new mates gradually develop a team identity.
“We were struggling a little bit at first trying to find an identity,” said Mooney. “But recently, we’ve been turning it around, especially defensively. A lot of it was just the sense of urgency, not being able to sit back. Guys are realizing that every game is important. The season is so short, every game is so crucial. Guys are starting to realize that and are preparing mentally better. That’s huge.”
And at this stage of the year, so is Mooney’s game.