UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The North American Invitational (LAXNAI), the world’s largest international box lacrosse tournament, came to Utica and the Adirondack Bank Center on Thursday with games continuing all the way to the Sunday championship games in three separate divisions, Men’s, U-18, and U-15.

Despite the tournament’s name, the teams competing in the event stretch far beyond just North America, the national teams from Poland, Hungary, Ireland, and Israel all making appearances in this year’s competition, and the teams from the Czech Republic, Jamaica, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Scotland all having competed in the past. This will be the first time the tournament is held in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, ending what was a two-year hiatus for the teams competing.

The Adirondack Bank Center was chosen as the host site for the LAXNAI due to its centralized location in the context of worldwide professional lacrosse, the game was created by the Native American people that lived in southern Canada and central New York, and the base of participants in the sport has stayed in that general area, the city of Utica is almost the direct middle of the Canadian, American, and Iroquois lacrosse communities, over 70% of participants in the National Lacrosse League live within a 5-hour drive of the AUD.

Games are already underway both inside the arena and in the parking lot, where a full-size turf field has been set up and will continue to go on well after dark each night, the final game of the first night of play between the host team, the Utica Yeti, who recently finished third in the country in the North American Box Lacrosse League Championships, taking on the team, Code Talkers LC who are based at the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne on the St Lawrence River. Games can be viewed via Livestream by going to the tournament webpage, laxnai.com.