The Odyssey Trust, owners of the Stena Line Belfast Giants and The SSE Arena, Belfast, has announced that two top American universities will compete in the ‘Ulster University Friendship Series’ – the first international NCAA women’s hockey games which will be played in Belfast on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th January 2019.
Clarkson University, the 2018 NCAA Champions, and Northeastern University, the 2018 Hockey East Champions, will be the first NCAA women’s teams to compete internationally. These top female athletes will be helping to encourage greater opportunities for women and girls to get involved in grassroots sports when they visit Northern Ireland in the new year.
The announcement of the Friendship Series will ensure the legacy of the Friendship Four will continue for years to come – the NCAA men’s tournament played every November in Belfast as four teams compete for the prestigious Belpot trophy.
The Friendship Series games will take place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th January at 3pm and 12pm respectively – directly before the Stena Line Belfast Giants vs Sheffield Steelers Elite League games at 7pm and 4pm.
Thanks to the support of the tournament’s partners, the inaugural Ulster University Friendship Series will be free to attend. Tickets will be available from Friday 21st December – at The SSE Arena Box Office or Belfast Giants game nights – December 21st, 22nd, 28th, 29th & 30th.
Would your youth group, sports team, community organisation etc. like to attend the inaugural Friendship Series? Then send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let you know how to apply!
Shane Johnson, Project Manager of the Friendship Series:
“The Ulster University Friendship Series is the first time that teams of this high standard will play outside of North America and we are honoured they have chosen Belfast.”
“I know that Giants fans will be excited to see Clarkson and Northeastern compete on their home ice with both teams having a rich history of success. We encourage them to bring along as many friends and family as possible to see these prestigious games in January. We want to make the Friendship Series open to everyone to watch and welcome these great athletes to Northern Ireland.”
Professor Ian Montgomery, Ulster University Pro Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement:
“Ulster University, as Northern Ireland’s civic university, is delighted to have secured title sponsorship for the first ever international NCAA women’s hockey games to be held here in Northern Ireland’s SSE Arena. This gives us an excellent opportunity to promote the benefits of participation in sport of all kinds to staff, students and the wider community.”
“Ulster’s teaching and research in the fields of Sports Science and Sports Management is world leading and we play host to many of Northern Ireland’s elite athletes who train on our campuses. We wish the teams from Clarkson and Northeastern all the best in their games.”
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey explained:
“We have just come off the back of the fourth Friendship Four festival which proved once again to be a huge success. Thousands of international visitors descended on the city and experienced the warm hospitality and energy of Belfast. The excitement and buzz down at the SSE Arena was incredible and the competing colleges put on a fantastic show for all of the spectators.”
“Undoubtedly, Friendship Four is one of the great success stories of our Sister Cities Relationship with Boston. It continues to go from strength to strength each year, and I am delighted that in a few short weeks Belfast will get the chance to repeat proceedings again as we host the first Friendship Series.”
“This event will be important, in terms of not only bringing additional visitors into the city and in terms of putting Belfast on the map, but it will also demonstrate further the accessibility of sport and the significant role it can play in building bridges, vibrant communities and connecting citizens.”