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Rivalry renewed

By SJU Lacrosse, 04/09/14, 5:00PM CDT


A preview of the 2014 installment for annual Johnnie/Tommie game

Current St. John's senior attackman Jake Helmer (right) dodges against St. Thomas defenseman Jesse Amar during the Johnnies' regular season victory in 2012. Photo by Steve Sanner

It’s a rivalry that annually spans across all sports – but it’s not too often that both teams are nationally ranked in the top ten when St. John’s University and the University of St. Thomas square off.

Except on the lacrosse field.

Each year since 2005, St. John’s and St. Thomas square off for a regular season conference game and the eyes of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association turn to Minnesota for the top ranked battle. This year will be no different with the Johnnies and Tommies ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the nation, respectively.

“The energy at practice always seems to pick up during the week of the rivalry game,” St. John’s coach Derek Daehn said. “It’s a rivalry that dates back to before the players on both teams were even born. It’s a rivalry that is still strong in the hearts of alumni. Our players know the importance of this game and that takes our preparation to another level.”

This will be the 10th time the two teams have met during the regular season and the 18th meeting all-time. The Tommies currently lead the series 9-8.

“Our main goal every year is to win a National Championship,” Daehn said. “Our other goal is to beat St. Thomas.”

The 2014 installment of the Johnnie/Tommie rivalry will take place on Friday, April 11 at 8 p.m.  at Clemens Stadium in Collegeville, Minn.

The Johnnies

St. John's currently holds a 6-2 overall record and a 2-0 record in the UMLC. The Johnnies kicked off the year with a pair of victories over No. 5 Grand Valley State University on Feb. 28 (15-11) and Lindenwood-Belleville University on March 1 (14-8). Following an overtime loss to No. 6 Grove City College on March 28 (11-12) and a four overtime loss to No. 1 University of Dayton (8-9), the Johnnies have won three straight against DePaul University on March 30 (17-3) and conference foes St. Olaf College on April 6 (20-2) and Bethel University on April 8 (15-3). St. John's also beat Indiana Tech on March 29 (9-5). Led by a powerful offense and traditionally strong defense, St. John's has outscored its opponents 108-53 during the 2014 season.

Senior captain Jake Helmer (17 goals, eight assists) leads the Johnnies in goals and is co-leader in points along with junior midfielder Ben Martynec (13 goals, 12 assists). St. John's has eight players in double digits for points: Helmer; Martynec; Andrew Fairbairn (nine goals, eight assists); Brooks Armitage (eight goals, seven assists); Cole Armitage (seven goals, eight assists); Michael Culshaw-Maurer (11 goals, three assists); Miles Armitage (10 goals, two assists); and Jake Senta (eight goals, two assists). Junior midfielder Owen Barkely is another contributor on offense with six goals and two assists. Senior captain Luke Eggerichs anchors the St. John's defense and sophomore goaltender Tyler Olson has started seven of the Johnnies' eight games posting a .623 save percentage.

The Tommies

Beating the University of St. Thomas has been a difficult task as the Tommies have posted a 121-13 record since 2007 – but six of those losses have come at the hands of St. John’s. The 2014 season (so far) has been an unconventional start for St. Thomas who heads into the Johnnie/Tommie Rivalry game with a 5-2 overall record (1-1 in the conference). The Tommies started out the year strong with four straight wins over No. 5 Grand Valley State University on March 1 (12-8), Lindenwood University-Belleville on March 2 (17-2), No. 13 Savannah College of Art and Design on March 21 (10-5) and No. 1 University of Dayton on March 22 (10-9). However, St. Thomas has lost two of its last three games to No. 10 Indiana Tech University on March 23 (8-9) in overtime and to No. 2 North Dakota State University on April 5 (9-12). The Tommies beat St. Olaf College on April 4 (20-5) and they have outscored their opponents 86-50 this season.

The Tommies have six players in double digits for points scored: junior midfielder Matt Kleven (19 goals, two assists); junior midfielder John Michael Coon (13 goals, four assists); junior midfielder Peter Schubloom (four goals, 11 assists); sophomore attackman Chris Moulton (nine goals, three assists); senior midfielder Joe Palermo (11 goals, one assist); and sophomore attackman Sean Hickey (six goals, five assists). Senior goaltender Ryan Zeilinger highlights the defense posting a .650 save percentage.

Friday, April 11 Schedule

4:00pm Wild Willes Food Truck arrives outside of Palestra
4:00pm Armstrong HS and St. Louis Park lacrosse teams begin warm-ups
5:00pm Food available at Food Truck
5:00pm High School Scrimmage
Armstrong vs. St. Louis Park
7:15pm St. John's and St. Thomas begin warm-ups
8:00pm Johnnie/Tommie Game
No. 3 St. John's vs.
No. 4 St. Thomas

Wild Willes Food Truck

Wild Willes Food Truck will be at both games on Friday night and will be parked between the Palestra and the Stadium field. Check out their website for more information and the menu: