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Belfast is all set to welcome Friendship four Belpot for two more years

By Stuart McKinley

Published 01/12/2016

Belfast friends: UMass Minutemen’s Jake Horton with St Lawrence Saints’ Ben Finkelstein at the SSE Arena
Belfast friends: UMass Minutemen’s Jake Horton with St Lawrence Saints’ Ben Finkelstein at the SSE Arena

Belfast will once again host the Friendship Four Belpot next year - and in 2018 too after an agreement to extend the American University competition was reached between the Odyssey Trust and NCAA.

Over 22,000 people attended the SSE Arena last weekend - with many of those being schoolchildren who were given free tickets along with entry to W5 for STEM events that ran alongside the Friendship Four.

The Vermont Catamounts took the trophy with a 5-1 win over Quinnipiac University in the second running of the Thanksgiving weekend tournament.

Vermont are expected to be given an invitation to defend their title next November and the final line-up will be announced in Boston next month as part of Belfast's Sister City agreement.

"The goal for the Friendship Four was always about more than ice hockey, to make ice hockey the excuse, and we have done that with the education visits and STEM events that surround the tournament," said Belfast Giants Head of Hockey Operations Steve Thornton.

"The Friendship Four is not just about the Odyssey Trust and the Belfast Giants, these US Universities will return home talking about the people of Northern Ireland and just how friendly this place is.

"The Friendship Four is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives."

The 2017 and 2018 Friendship Four will again take place on the last weekend of November.

Eric Porter, chairman of the Odyssey Trust, said: "The Sister City agreement has allowed the Odyssey Trust the honour of hosting this prestigious tournament for two years and also to see its return in 2017 and 2018.

"We want to make the Friendship Four in 2017 and 2018 open to all and we expect that the city of Belfast will, yet again, open its arms to our US guests as well as be excited to see this standard of ice hockey return to their home arena again for two more years."

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