Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston has hailed the success of the NI Connections Friendship Four tournament which took place at The SSE Arena last week.

The landmark event saw four US colleges – Quinnipiac University, The University of Vermont, St. Lawrence University and University of Massachusetts – battle against one another for the Belpot Trophy. Vermont became the 2016’s winners which was the second time the games were played outside the US in Belfast.

One of Northern Ireland’s most televised events being broadcast live in America and Canada, the event was further watched by over 22,000 at the SSE Arena. Schoolchildren from across Belfast, many of whom had never experienced an ice-hockey game before, were also invited along by the council to cheer on the teams for the first game.

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The Lord Mayor, who dropped the puck to mark the start of the games, said: “The NI Connections Friendship Four tournament was a fantastic success for Belfast. It was a wonderful experience for all those who came down and watched the games at the SSE Arena on Friday and Saturday and for the US teams and visitors who spent the week in the city.

“I now want to thank the four teams and the league officials as well as our partners in Belfast and the United States who made the tournament possible. It was a great outworking of our sister city relationship with Boston and there’s every indication that the tournament will go from strength to strength each year.”

Belfast City Council was principal sponsor of the NI Connections Friendship Four tournament. To listen to the Lord Mayor speak about the tournament, click here.

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