Before the season began, Shaun Springett made a pair of big moves and while they may not have translated into more victories on the floor, they have proved to been the right call.
The first move was switching James Rahe from defence to offence and the second was giving Rahe the captain’s C to wear on the jersey for the Langley Junior Thunder.
And while the Thunder’s season will end on Friday (July 6) with the team not qualifying for the post-season, Rahe has been nothing short of spectacular.
In 18 games, Rahe sits tied for second in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League with 40 goals and 41 assists for 81 points.
Last season, he had 21 goals and 44 points in 18 games.
The 20-year-old Rahe — who still has a season of junior eligibility remaining ‚ has also played four games for the senior A Langley Thunder. In his first game, he scored a hat trick and now has six points in his short time playing with the men’s squad.
Springett contends that despite his junior team’s struggles, Rahe should get consideration for the league’s MVP award.
And should he win the award, it would be the third straight year Springett has had the privilege of coaching the award winner.
Heading into their final regular season game — they have already been eliminated from post-season contention — Langley sits at 5-14-1.
“Without James, there is no way we would be near where we are,” the coach said.
The scoring title will be won by New Westminster’s Connor Robinson, who has 40 goals and 99 points. The rest of the top five is separated by nine points, but what the stats don’t show is that Rahe has scored or assisted on nearly 51 per cent of his team’s goals. By comparison, none of the other top scorers are above 35 per cent.
There is no secret to what makes Rahe special.
“He is just a big, strong kid and sees the floor well,” Springett said.
“He understands the game, finds the holes (and) he is not afraid to shoot.”
No player has attempted more than Rahe, who has fired 175 shots, scoring on 22.3 per cent of his attempts.
Rahe was more of a defensive specialist in 2013 for Langley, mainly because the team had other quality offensive weapons with six players surpassing the 20-goal mark.
“I wasn’t too surprised (with the move), I have always been an offensive-minded player,” he said. “And that is where I feel more comfortable, that is what I play at school.”
Rahe is also a third-year mechanical engineering student at Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University and plays on the Colonials’ field lacrosse team.
Rahe, who is six-foot-four and 230 pounds, is used to facing double teams, but he is strong enough to beat them when he can and smart enough to know when to use his teammates.
He is also quick to give credit to his teammates and coaches.
“It is not me at all, it is the team,” Rahe said. “We run a good offence … and it all has to do with the guys on the floor.”
Last year, saw Athan Iannucci serve as the team’s assistant, and this year, Alex Turner is serving the role.
The pair are teammates on the Langley senior A Thunder and Turner is second in league scoring (44 points in 11 games) and Iannucci is third (39 points in 11 games), so they definitely know what they are doing with a stick in their hands.
“Being able to mess around with them at practice and talk to them about what has made them a successful has played a big role,” Rahe said.
Having familiarity with the two helped Rahe when he got called up to play for the senior squad, but he admitted to being surprised to score three times in his senior debut.
“I honestly think it had a lot to do with the guys out there,” he said.
“I would be open for a split second and the ball would be on my stick, which isn’t normally how it is. In senior, the guys make you look really good.”
Springett is not surprised with Rahe’s instant success at the senior level, despite playing against men, some of whom are 15 years his senior.
“James, with his size, that doesn’t really intimidate him,” he said. “And he has the IQ of a senior player.”
Springett anticipates another solid year of junior in 2015 for Rahe, followed by a lengthy and productive senior career.
Rahe, who grew up in Aldergrove and played through the ranks of the Langley Minor Lacrosse Association, would love nothing more than playing both senior lacrosse in the WLA and pro lacrosses in the National Lacrosse League with the Thunder and Vancouver Stealth, respectively.