The NI Connections Friendship Four Ice Hockey tournament is making a welcome return to Belfast this November, with four US NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) teams taking to the ice at the home of the Belfast Giants, The SSE Arena, to compete for the Belpot Trophy.

The four games will hit the ice in Belfast on USA’s Thanksgiving Weekend on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th November with the next generation of world ice-hockey stars on show to the Northern Irish public. Universities competing are Clarkson University, RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Providence College and the University of Maine.

The competitive league games 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. Face-Offs on both days are 3pm and 7pm at The SSE Arena.

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 have arrived in Belfast to take part in an inspection visit ahead of the 2017 tournament. The inspection team was welcomed to City Hall 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”

Tickets are now on sale for the 2017 tournament – buy yours now online with ticketmaster.ie or at the Arena Box Office either in person or by calling (028) 9073 9074.

Pic: Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Nuala McAllister is pictured with NCAA officials Steve Hagwell and Joe Bertanga, Eric Porter Odyssey Trust, Kyle Murphy, Providence College, Scott Smalling Clarkson University, Lee McIlroy RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and Paul Culina University of Maine whose teams will compete for the Belpot Cup in the NI Connections Friendship Four Ice Hockey tournament Belfast at the SSE Arena on 24 and 25 November.