The countdown is on for the return of the annual US college ice hockey tournament, the Friendship Four, which makes its triumphant return to Belfast’s SSE Arena in November.
he tournament, the only NCAA ice hockey tournament played outside of North America, was shelved in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic but will be staged once more next month now that travel restrictions have been lifted.
And the event will return on November 25 and 26 with a new title sponsor as US software delivery platform Harness come on board, with the tournament renamed the Harness Friendship Four.
This season’s tournament – which is only 50 days away – will see the UMass Lowell River Hawks, Massachusetts Minutemen (UMass), Quinnipiac Bobcats and Dartmouth Big Green compete for the Belpot Trophy.
Only Dartmouth are first-timers to the event, with the River Hawks having won the inaugural tournament in 2015, while the Minutemen and Bobcats both competed in 2016.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Christina Black, hosted several representatives from the four teams when they came to the city for a planning weekend and she is excited to see the tournament return after two years away.
“Building on the strong foundations of our Sister City agreement with Boston, this tournament has extended the hand of friendship, bringing communities across Belfast together to enjoy high-energy sport and entertainment in the heart of Belfast,” said Councillor Black.
“We look forward to welcoming the four college teams to the city this November for what promises to be an action-packed few days, both on and off the ice.”
The tournament also works with the local community as the college players with visit schools around the wider Belfast area before the tournament begins, with school children offered free tickets for the games at the weekend.
Tickets for the are on sale via FriendshipFour.com and Ticketmaster.ie, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children per game. A four-game pass is also available, priced at £30 for adults and £15 for children.