NI Connections Friendship Four returns to Belfast
27 Sep 2017
The NI Connections Friendship Four Ice Hockey tournament is making a welcome return to Belfast this November, with four US College Ice Hockey teams taking to the ice at the SSE Arena to compete for the Belpot Cup.
The games take place on 24 and 25 November and will be televised to a global audience of millions, as well as attracting fans from across the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States wanting to witness the high octane action.
Belfast City Council is a key funder of the NI Connections Friendship Four which is now in its third year. It is one of the standout weekends in the US college sporting calendar and continues to go from strength to strength.
Senior US Ice Hockey officials from the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and representatives from the four competing colleges; Clarkson University, RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Providence College and the University of Maine arrived in Belfast to take part in a four day inspection visit ahead of the tournament.
The inspection team was welcomed to City Hall today by Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister.
Councillor McAllister said she was excited for the buzz the tournament will bring to Belfast. She added:
“The NI Connections Friendship Four is a fantastic outworking of our Sister Cities agreement with Boston. The theme for my year in office is ‘Global Belfast’ and this tournament offers our city a fantastic opportunity to showcase itself as an open, welcoming and inclusive place for people to work, live and visit.
“Year on year the games grow in stature as one of the highlights of Belfast’s sporting calendar. The buzz in the arena when the games are taking place is hard to match and I would encourage everyone to come along and support the teams.”
Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Odyssey Trust, said: “It is an honour to welcome our guests from RPI, Clarkson, Maine and Providence, the 2017 Friendship Four competing teams. The Odyssey Trust is incredibly proud that Belfast continues to host the only competitive NCAA games outside of America. The Friendship Four festival of ice-hockey in November is open to all and is our opportunity to give back to the communities who have been loyal to us over the years."
This is an exciting year for Belfast as the city will also host the first ever competitive US college basketball tournament outside America on 1 and 2 December 2017 at the SSE Arena. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic is presented by the Sport Changes Life (SCL) Foundation and its partner the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).