Stamper's Musings: St. John is the ALL's Half-Millenium Man

by Stephen Stamp

Special to ALL Courtesy of Stephen Stamp – Inside Lacrosse. Story has been edited for the Arena Lacrosse League.

This week we'll take a look at the Arena Lacrosse League and the player who has scored by far the most points in its history, with John St. John getting his 500th point last Saturday. The story takes us back to his first point in 2017 and a fun look at both his career and some of the players you'll recognize who have been involved.

Arena Lacrosse League Scoring King

John St. John was already well ahead of everyone else in Arena Lacrosse League history in terms of career points, but last week he reached a huge milestone. With a goal in the first quarter of the Oshawa Outlaws' game in Millbrook against the Peterborough Timbermen, St. John recorded his 500th career ALL point.

St. John scored his first point in the league back on the day the ALL debuted. The Outlaws were playing the third game of a triple header at the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa on January 7, 2017. The game with the Six Nations Snipers was tied 2-2 as the Outlaws were killing a penalty late in the first quarter. Darryl Robertson, who earlier in the game had scored the first goal in Outlaws history, took a clearing pass, jogged over centre and handed it to St. John coming off the Oshawa bench. St. John fought through a double team, somehow hung on to the ball and burst toward the net, where he deposited a high-to-high shot past the right shoulder of Snipers' goalie Warren Hill.

You can see both goals and hear more about the ALL's most prolific scorer on this week's episode of StampLax Breakdown on Blue Squatch Productions.

Other Players NLL Fans Will Recognize

It was fun to take a look back at that inaugural Outlaws game from 2017. Hill wasn't the only current NLL player in that contest. Zach Higgins, now with the Philadelphia Wings, took a redeye flight back from Calgary to play for Oshawa. He played for the Roughnecks in relief of Christin Del Bianco, who got shelled for 7 goals on 18 shots in his NLL starting debut with Frank Scigliano missing the game because of a suspension arising from a preseason game incident. Higgins was fantastic for Calgary, stopping 34 of 39 shots as the Riggers came almost all the way back from an early deficit, losing 12-11 to the Vancouver Stealth. That .872 save percentage was the highest recorded by any NLL goalie that season. He was just about as good for Oshawa, making 42 saves to earn first star honours in their 13-8 win over the Snipers.

The second star in that game was Travis Longboat, now playing for the Albany FireWolves. Longboat's Albany teammate (and FireWolves alternate captain) Nick Chaykowsky played for Oshawa that day, as did Mike Triolo (now with the Saskatchewan Rush).

Another fun fact is that three more of St. John's teammates from that 2017 game were also there last Saturday when he hit the 500 mark. Zach Tomkinson, Graham Bergsma and Nick Andreoli were all playing for Oshawa against Peterborough. In fact, there was one more 2017 Outlaw on the bench with the team last week. Ryan McMichael was a forward with the team back then and is now the offensive coach. He scored a huge goal late in the 2017 championship game, which the Outlaws won 11-10 over the Toronto Monarchs with Higgins as the first star and Bergsma as the second star.

St. John had the NLL dream like so many Canadian boys. He was taken 26th overall, in the third round of the 2015 NLL draft by the Rochester Knighthawks. Other players taken in that year's third round include Tyson Bell, Kellen LeClair, Mike Triolo and Phil Caputo. St. John was also the first overall pick, by the Cobourg Kodiaks, in the 2016 Major Series Lacrosse draft.

He went to camp with the Knighthawks and spent time on both the practice squad and active roster, but did not get the chance to play. Rochester, fairly fresh off their run of three straight NLL championships, were loaded at lefty forward with the likes of Cody Jamieson, Joe Walters, Cory Vitarelli and Jordan Hall, then added Kyle Jackson and Dan Lomas in the first two rounds of the draft in 2016.

Suffice it to say, cracking a pro roster is always a significant challenge, but it was even more so in those days of just nine NLL teams, meaning there were somewhere between just 27 and 36 spots for lefty forwards in the league at any given time. St. John played in the ALL in the early days with the hopes of making his way up to the NLL. More recently, though, he has remained with Oshawa because he still loves playing the game and suiting up with the Outlaws is a great chance to keep doing so.

Sustained Excellence 

Hitting the half millennium mark in points is a testament to his longevity, but St. John hasn't gotten there simply by sticking around for the entire history of the league to date. After finishing 13th and 15th in the league in scoring his first two seasons, St. John has won four straight scoring titles (2022 & '23 were for the ALL East, as the BC-based ALL West is now in its third season).

His best season came in 2023, when he set career highs in goals (33), assists (74) and points (107) despite missing a game, meaning he averaged 8.2 points for each of the 13 games he played.

And he isn't showing any signs of slowing down. After adding 7 more points to his 500th for a total of 9 in last week's win, St. John is atop the scoring table again with 14 goals and 51 assists for 65 points through 10 games. He is being pushed for this year's lead by the Pipher brothers, Devin with 63 points for the Whitby Steelhawks and Parker with 59 for the Toronto Monarchs.

All of the ALL East games are broadcast by JVI Sports Network, so you can follow the chase for scoring title and the 2024 championship that will culminate at the end of March.