Being dealt to the Fort Erie Meteors was the best thing that could have happened to Jake Mooring.
The 20-year-old Barrie native began last season with the Strathroy Rockets of the Western Conference of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, but requested a trade when the Rockets were looking to rebuild.
“I think their goal was to go with a younger team for future years and felt it would be best if I moved on,” Mooring said. “No hard feelings but I wanted to go a different way and they were happy to send me to a place where I could get lots of minutes for my last year. That’s valuable for any 20-year-old trying to move on.”
The Meteors brought in the veteran defenceman, who immediately added experience and depth to their blueline.
“It was good to go to Fort Erie to get a ton of playing time and be able to showcase myself,” Mooring said. “It worked out for both sides.”
Mooring played 34 games for the Meteors where he collected two goals and 12 assists to go along with 54 minutes in penalties.
He was originally recruited by Rob Hubbert, who was replaced behind the bench by Dave Marrone, Chris Risi and Steve Dol just after Christmas.
“I looked at it as an opportunity with a team that their record didn’t reflect the talent in the room, I don’t think,” Mooring said. “Nothing against our first coach, I really liked him. I think he’s a really good guy but for whatever reason, his coaching style didn’t get through to our group of guys. You see that happen at every level.
“When the new coaches came in, they brought in a different style of coaching and the guys really took to it a lot better. You could see the way we finished the season.”
Marrone appreciated Mooring’s contributions.
“He was terrific in the room. He’s a humble guy that kept himself in great shape and contributed some timely offence for us as well,” Marrone said.
Mooring’s strong showing with Fort Erie paid off when he recently committed to the Neumann University Knights, a Division III school which plays in the United College Hockey Conference. He is majoring in sport management.
“It’s kind of funny how it worked out because I was talking to some other schools at the start of the year and they kind of fell off. There was a point where I was talking to more Canadian schools than American schools,” he said.
Mooring then sent an e-mail to Neumann and had a promising chat with a member of their coaching staff.
“From the first phone call with them I felt like they were a great group of guys, somewhere it would be nice to play. From the first conversation on the phone, to the head coach coming up to watch one of the playoff games, to the way they talked to me and made me feel like a valuable piece to their team going forward, it just seemed like a very good fit.”
Mooring, who is working out in the family garage and rollerblading to work on his skating, is ready for the challenge of playing at the next level.
“I think it’s going to be having to make those decisions a little bit quicker,” he said. “Adjusting to the speed and guys are a little bit bigger and stronger.”
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