Lord Mayor Brian Kingston welcomed US College President John Lahey from Quinnipiac University to Belfast today ahead of the NI Connections Friendship Four ice-hockey tournament – coming to the city next month.

John Lahey was named Irish American of the Year in 2011 and is a past recipient of the Manton Award in recognition of his service to New York. He has been President of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut since 1987.

Quinnipiac University will compete against three other teams from the US for the coveted Belpot trophy with the Northern Irish Connections Friendship Four games taking place over Thanksgiving Weekend on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th November. The other teams are from the University of Vermont, St Lawrence University and the University of Massachusetts.

Belfast City Council is sponsoring the prestigious tournament with the games coming to Belfast last year as a result of Belfast’s Sister City Agreement with Boston – signed in 2014 to build on business, tourism and cultural links between the cities.

Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston said: “The Council is delighted to be the main sponsor of the Friendship Four ice-hockey festival – for the second year in a row. This prestigious tournament will showcase Belfast globally – boosting tourism and building on our economic, academic and cultural links with the United States. It was a great success last year and I know that it will be even bigger and better this year.”

Last year, over 20,000 fans attended the four games with over 2,000 pupils from schools across the city watching the opening game. The games not only showcased the future NHL stars in Belfast but also put Belfast on the global map through the screening of the games live to an international audience in North America and Canada.