The second annual LaxAllStars.com North American Invitational (LASNAI) took place on the Onondaga Nation this past weekend, and 21 teams played a total of 63 box lacrosse games over three days. Each team played six shortened games (two per day), and by the end we had placed all 21 teams in order through tough playoff and consolation brackets.
Next year, we expand to 32 teams and two indoor locations on the Onondaga Nation, but spots are already being filled by interested teams, so don’t wait too long if you want to get in on this for 2018!!!!
Photo Credit: Ondrej Mike, LCC Radotin
(Remember, you can watch all the indoor games HERE!)
TBL – Repeat Champions
Thompson Brothers Elite took the title for the second year in a row, and maintained a perfect 12-0 record in the LASNAI, but their path was far from easy. While TBL beat four teams by 5 goals or more, the Young Guns gave them a great 12-8 game in their round robin game, and the Frog Pond Maulers almost knocked them off for the championship in the title game, eventually falling 10-9 to TBL.
TBL was loaded up with some of the best offensive talent in the world (and fresh new unreleased Nike turfs), and it showed all tournament long. However, the team lacked a real concentration of “defensive” players, with only Steve Priolo and Bill O’Brien truly fitting the mold. In goal, Troy Lyons (a natural lefty forward) stood tall for much of the tourney, while Hiana Thompson (another lefty forward) stepped back in between the pipes for the final game.
Hiana played goalie last year for TBL and seemed to struggle at times, but he was incredibly impressive in the final this year. I keep joking with Hinz that he’s going to switch positions eventually, and if he keeps making this kind of progress year after year, it really could happen! Do the Swarm need a goalie?
All kidding aside, TBL not only put on a show on the floor, but they also put on a clinic off the floor on how to act like a professional and Grow The Game. TBL players hung out with other teams, watched other games, took photos with fans (and opponents), and talked lacrosse with anyone who wanted the conversation. They were open, approachable, and friendly. For a lot of the fans (and many of the players), this was a real treat to rub shoulders with some of the games best. Thanks to all the TBL guys for doing all they did, not only for the tourney, but also for the N7 TBL campers they hosted during the tourney.
That’s right, they played AND ran a camp for kids on the same day. Well done! That’s really what this is all about on many levels – the next generations to come.
New Contenders – Frog Pond Maulers
Danton Miller put together a truly impressive Frog Pond Maulers team, and these guys were only a goal away from taking the title this year. It didn’t matter if they were short a couple guys for earlier games, because they went out and won anyway on pure talent and savvy.
It didn’t matter that their goalie, Brennor Jacobs, hadn’t played lacrosse in 3 years, because he was unbelievable in net whenever he stepped in between the pipes. It didn’t matter that few thought Frog Pond would win it all, because Frog Pond thought they would, and to them, that was all that mattered. The Pond is back!
Austin Staats led the way for Frog Pond on offense and took home the MVP award for his efforts. With 16 goals and 13 assists, he led the tournament in points (29) and goals, while finishing third in assists. Not bad for a 19 year old!
Staats was far from the only offensive star for Frog Pond as Brendan Bomberry had 12 goals and 10 assists to finish 5th in scoring, while Kessler Doolittle had 16 points, and team captain Danton Miller notched an impressive 15 points of his own. On the other end of the floor, Tyson Bomberry and Jerry Staats were stand outs on D for the Maulers.
This team played loose, and with passion, and they almost took home the title. We can’t wait to see what Danton Miller comes up with for next year. The gauntlet has been thrown down, and Frog Pond’s first answer was impressive.
LASNAI All Tournament Team
We set ourselves a hard task with the all-tournament team at the LASNAI. Instead of following the trend of naming everyone and their mother to the team, we limit it to SIX all-tourney team players, ONE tourney MVP, and ONE sportsmanship winner. That’s it.
Only EIGHT players are named all tournament, there is no second team, there is no honorable mention. We want this to be an honor, and when you see the names below, you’ll agree – it’s not easy to make this list!
LASNAI MVP – Austin Staats – Frog Pond Maulers
Sportsmanship Award – Blaze Riorden – St. Lawrence River Wolverines
Forward – Kyle Buchanan – TBL
Forward – Tyler Brown – The Young Guns
Transition – Lyle Thompson – TBL
Transition – Marty Bowes – Casey Powell World Lacrosse Foundation
Defense – Cam Simpson – Onondaga Redhawks
Goalie – Mike Thompson – Syracuse Stingers
There were a ton of deserving players for this team, and we had to wrestle over 20+ players that truly stood out before making the final call. At the end of the day, we were looking for players who stood out AND made their teams better, and each and every one of the guys listed above did just that. These guys all had “woah” moments, and lots of them. Congrats to all on stellar tournament performances!
While we want to congratulate all of the players selected, I want to personally acknowledge Blaze Riorden for his play, AND for his actions, this past weekend. Blaze competes, wants to win, and plays hard, but he also keeps things in perspective, and more often than not he has a big smile on his face. When he shakes hands with an opponent after a game, he means it, and when his name was read off as the sportsmanship winner after the finals, the crowd erupted in a huge cheer, amongst the loudest of the entire night. Many thanks to Gabe Oakes for organizing the St. Lawrence River team for which Blaze played. As a team, they were a class act all weekend.
Thanks to Traditional Lacrosse for providing the all-star, MVP, and Sportsmanship awards, which all came in the form of wooden lacrosse sticks.
The Top Ten LASNAI Teams
You know how TBL and Frog Pond ended up, and I covered them above, so see below for some quick hitters on the next 8 teams, rounding out or Top Ten!
#3 – Onondaga Redhawks – The home side put together a tough and talented team and drew big crowds for their games. They lost to TBL 11-6 in the second semifinal, but won their other 5 games, including two one-goal wins. Onondaga got balanced scoring with six players scoring 7 points or more. McCoy Abrams led the way with 11 points, while Troy Benedict and Wade Bucktooth each had 10 apiece. Edmund Cathers was phenomenal in net. In 2016 OAC finished in 4th. This year they took 3rd. What happens next year?!?!?
#4 – Casey Powell World Lacrosse Foundation – The CPWLF team came together late as our last team to enter, and very few of the guys had played all that much together. Some hadn’t even played all that much box! Behind great goaltending from Derek Blasutti (and four assists!), scoring from Marty Bowes, Greg Melaugh, Matt Rakoczy, and Grant Whiteway, face offs from Billy Nguyen, and a great team defensive effort, CPWLF finished 4th. These guys had a great locker room dynamic, and it drove them to a top 4 finish. Inspiring stuff for a brand new team thrown together late!
#5 – St. Lawrence River Wolverines – Blaze Riorden, Angus Langborne, Ky Tarbell, Ty Thompson, and Russ Oakes led the Wolverines in scoring, and this was a solid group from top to bottom, where FIVE different field players shared goalie responsibilities. Talk about a team effort! Ty Thompson, Chris George, Trey Adams, Sky Sunday, AND Colby Johnson all spent time in the goal. Amazing! This was a great group of guys, and we loved having them at the tourney for the first time in 2017! Gabe Oakes did a phenomenal job putting this group together.
#6 – Basom Bombers – Basom went 3-0, winning their group and their first round playoff game. In the quarters they played Onondaga, and dropped that game 6-4. They went on to beat the Stingers before losing to the Wolverines in the 5th place game. Kobe Whittcombe and Larson Sundown led the Bombers with 17 and 16 points respectively, but Jake Rice, Owen Hill, and Gates Abrams all had productive showings on offense as well. Wayne and Goah Abrams shared netminders duties, and both had save percentages over 70% when it was all said and done. Basom was another new team to the tourney, and very impressive!
#7 – Syracuse Stingers – The Stingers had amazing goaltending, and won their pool by a large margin. They won their first playoff game 5-3 over Blue Goose, but met up with the TBL buzzsaw in the next round, dropping a hard fought 9-4 game. Basom beat Syracuse 7-5 in their next game, but the Stingers rebounded with a 6-5 win in the 7th place game over the The Young Guns. The Stingers had incredibly balanced scoring with Neal Powless (11 points), Roger Vyse (10 points), Thomas Oakley (10 points), and Ty Hill (8 points) leading the way. Mike Thompson’s save percentage was at 90% by the end of the tourney. UNREAL! This is Syracuse’s second appearance in the LASNAI. They finished lower last year, and are trending up!
#8 – The Young Guns – TYG is likely sitting at home right a little disappointed, but they really shouldn’t be. This was the first time this team had EVER played together, and they did so with a really short bench. Some of the breaks didn’t go their way, but Tyler Brown put together this group of young stars, and they used their legs, skill, and savvy to contend. Losing 12-8 to TBL with only 12 guys is beyond impressive. I loved watching these guys play the game! Brown had 23 points and was an all tournament selection, while Vern Hill, Blaze White, and Ken Angus each notched 10 points or more. Cecil Jacobs was a lot of fun to watch in net, and has a bright future in between the pipes. We can’t wait to see the team The Young Guns bring back in 2018. This was a very impressive first outing for a brand new team!
#9 – LCC Radotin – LCC finished in the top ten, and this team is 100% Czech. I love it! This group lost 10-7 to Frog Pond in their round robin game, and then dropped a tough 4-3 game to Onondaga in the first round of the playoffs. It was an unlucky draw for LCC, as they had the talent to go deeper in the playoffs. Radotin rebounded with 3 straight wins to finish 4-2 and in 9th place. Dominik Pesek led the team in scoring and had a great tournament, while Matej Barak, Jiri Loskot, Thomas Prochazka, and Jiri Kostal each scored 10 points or more. LCC hosts another 21 team tournament of their own (the Ales Hrebesky Memorial) and we base our tourney structure off of their event, so it’s absolutely AMAZING to have them play in the LASNAI each year.
#10 – GoldStar Tel Aviv – As they do, GSTA brought in a mix of “box guys” and guys who want to learn box. Under great coaching, these guys always manage to come along and improve, and a 10th place finish for this group isn’t bad at all. Tel Aviv was actually really close to an even higher finish! After winning their group, Tel Aviv lost a heartbreaker, 5-4, to the CPWLF team. A win their puts them in the top 8, and it was only a goal away! GSTA won their next two games, before dropping one to LCC in the 9th place game. Dan Deckelbaum had 15 points to lead the way, while both Zach Pall and Adam Wolf hit double digits. In all, 12 players had 3 points or more for excellent scoring spread. Young Jerry Jensen was rock solid in net.
Here are how the teams finished up in spots 11 through 21.
#11 – Blue Goose LC
#12 – LaserSharks Blanco
#13 – Seneca Marksmen
#14 – LAS House Team
#15 – Rochester River Monsters
#16 – LaserSharks Neon
#17 – Caughnawaga Indians
#18 – Brooklyn Dodgers
#19 – Music City
#20 – Clevenland Demons
#21 – Courage Game House Team
A MOST SINCERE thank you to each and every one of these teams! Many could have finished higher than they did, and each came to compete, win games, and have fun. Sometimes the breaks don’t roll your way, but each and every one of these teams gave it their all, and it was an honor having them step onto the floor for our event!
The Big Thanksgiving!
On behalf of the LASNAI tournament and my partners, I want to sincerely thank EVERYONE for coming this year, and I also want to thank the Onondaga Nation and the Onondaga Athletic Club for once again allowing us to host our event on their sacred and sovereign soil. Nya:wenha. This means the world to us, and your friendship and support warms our hearts in what can be a cold, disjointed and modern age. Joining hands, we have been able to create a truly wonderful and unique box lacrosse experience. Thank you!!!!
Thanks to Oren Lyons for presenting the LASNAI championship trophy again this year, and for encouraging our tournament to grow and improve. Your support, and the support of the Onondaga Nation, is very much appreciated and recognized. We count ourselves as very fortunate to have your friendship.
I want to personally thank Scott Neiss, Brad Cronin, and David Reed for helping to organize the LASNAI with me again, and to ensure it ran smoothly. All of these men put in incredible hours organizing, working the door, putting out fires, and running the show. Incredible stuff all around.
We are also very fortunate to have an amazing (and much larger) staff working on this event, and without these selfless, dedicated people, none of this could happen.
Thank you to our stats crew (led by Shirely Hill, Rob Benson, and Gail Dempsey with SO MANY OTHERS HELPING!) for doing an unreal job all day, for 3 straight days! Thanks to Oliver Hill for showing up on Day 1 and volunteering with our stats crew, and taking care of rosters. It was a HUGE help and very much appreciated on all counts! You were all fantastic and made the event that much better.
Thank you to our announcers and box crews (led by Mike Brandt and Stephen Stamp) for keeping everyone informed and engaged! I lost my voice, but these pros kept going strong!
Thank you to the LAS crew (led by Mark Donahue, Brian Witmer, Ryan Conwell, and Jeff Brunelle) for the million big and little things you all did all weekend! UNREAL working with you all to make this happen.
Thank you to our video guy (John Galvin) for your monumental work rate this weekend and amazing video quality! You are the man!
A HUGE thank you to the arena staff (led by Ed Shenandoah) and to the security staff, our medial staff, our water boys, and all of the other local volunteers and workers. The locker rooms were spotless, the glass was always clean, the doors were always secure, and you all went above and beyond whenever asked (sometimes when you weren’t even asked!). I got nothing but smiles and friendship from arena and security staff, and have only positive thoughts when I think of someone in a neon yellow T-shirt. Many thanks to the legendary Travis Cook for working the door ALL tourney long! THANK YOU ALL!!!
Many thanks to our massage therapist, trainers, and overall body helpers. It was a last minute addition, and a great one! Next year, we want you back. Our backs have requested it!
Thanks to our referees! Each of them oversaw a ton of action and we can not play this great game without you!!!
Another HUGE thanks to our many wonderful vendors and sponsors – NIKE, UnCommon Fit, The Courage Game, Burd Wood Works, Adoch Shenandoah, Jack Johnson/Tama Lacrosse, WoodLacrosseSticks.com, and Traditional Lacrosse were all fantastic on site vendors and sponsors! Thanks to Throne Lacrosse and Sisu Mouthguards for their partnerships as well, and thanks to the Tewaaraton Award, Onondaga Athletic Club, Sticks for Kids, and the CPWLF for coming out and supporting our event. Thanks to BarStoolJordie, Throne, and College Crosse for coming out to get media! Thanks to Syracuse.com, and Cuse.com, and all the others who provided info about this event!
Thank you to TBL for running their camp (Bill O’Brien and crew!), thanks to Carrier Dome for the Sunday games, and thanks to Israel, Albany, and the Iroquois for playing great games in the Dome! Thanks to the the Wood Stick Festival (Phil Arnold and the IVI) for hosting their event on the same weekend as our tournament, and thanks to all for being partners in this whole #LaxWeekend17 event!
At the end of the day I want to THANK YOU, (yes, YOU!) sincerely, and from the bottom of my heart. Whether you were at the LASNAI playing, coaching, or as a fan, whether you were watching from home, or following along on social media… THANK YOU. We tried to put together an amazing event, and we did just that, because of YOU. Thank you for helping make our dreams your reality. Without you all, we are nothing.
To see all of these people come together to make something like the LASNAI happen gave me a personal boost. All the handshakes, smiles, and hugs made every minute (let’s be honest – hour) of lost sleep well worth it. I’m still exhausted, and a little delirious, so if I missed you, please forgive me. Know that EVERY person made this event what it was, and know that I thank you.
This year was better than last year. Next year will be better than this year. I know this to be true because we will work our butts off to make it happen, but also because I know all of you support this event. LASNAI 2018 is already in the works!
Nya:wenha to all. Grow The Game!