Thursday, May 5, 2016

Postgame Blog and Highlights: Littleton Runs Past Leominster

Littleton's Griffin Shoemaker
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Led by junior attackman Griffin Shoemaker's six goals, Littleton exploded for an eight-goal midgame run to top Leominster 12-4, and clinch a tournament berth at Doyle Field Thursday.

The Tigers (10-1) got running in transition in the second quarter, and the Blue Devils (6-6) struggled to keep up on a cold, wet day in Leominster. Seven consecutive Tiger goals made it 8-1 at the half, and Littleton also opened scoring in the second half with a Shoemaker goal. Adam Canfield and Anthony Rausa each finished with a pair of goals, and helped Littleton dominate ground balls on the day.

Here are a few takeaways, along with video highlights of today's action.

Shoemaker is a Playmaker

Griffin Shoemaker is having an unbelievable season, already with 64 points (40G, 24A), and he does so much for the Tigers up front. A quick penetrator with great stick skills, Shoemaker has proven to be a capable finisher and distributor throughout his career.

Still, this Littleton offense is much more than one player, as the Tigers have multiple attackmen and middie that can make opponents pay.

"Griff makes me look awful smart a lot of times," Littleton coach Mike Blanchard said. "But it's more than just him. Anthony (Rausa) played well, (Adam) Canfield is stepping up. (Brendan) Collari is our X guy, and he really makes the ball move well."

An Underrated Defense

While Shoemaker and the offense get most of the attention, Littleton has quietly built one of the best defenses in the region, anchored by second-year starting goalie Eric Rauker.

Rauker finished the day with double-digit saves, including a few nifty kick saves that looked like something out of the NHL. The Tigers have surrendered double-digit goals in only one game all season, and the stellar play of his defense is not lost on Shoemaker.

"Erik is a very determined goalie," Shoemaker said. "He's big, he's athletic, and he just moves well between the pipes very well. The poles are led by senior captain Ben Church, and really organizes them. We've just got a hard working group of poles that want to get the job done."

Looking Ahead

Littleton has won five in a row, qualified for the playoffs, and rolls into a big game next week against Tyngsboro fighting for tournament position in Division 3 Central/East. While a loss to district foe Groton-Dunstable hurts the Tigers' seeding case a bit, they still seem to be in line for a Top-5 seed.

Next Tuesday's home game against Tyngsboro will tell us a lot about both of those teams' tournament futures, and Littleton's trip to Shepherd Hill next Thursday will also be a big one, just in terms of keeping momentum.  If the Tigers are able to lock up a Top-5 seed, they could be in line for their deepest tournament run yet.

"We've made it past the first round of the playoffs every year I've been here, and then we've kind of laid an egg in the second round," Shoemaker said. "We're looking to take this thing deep. We've got a great team this year, and I'm along for the ride."

Video Highlights

Once again, weather prevented me from taping the entire game, but here are some of Littleton's first half highlights.

Littleton Runs Past Leominster from Joe Parello on Vimeo.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Rauker, extremely underrated goalie. Acrobatic saves, runs the ball up well, and loud in the cage. Only a Junior.