Northern Ireland’s hottest ice hockey tickets of the decade have gone on sale following the news that the world famous Boston Bruins will travel to Belfast in October to play their first ever game outside of North America, against the Belfast Giants at the Odyssey Arena.
The announcement was made by NIO Minister Arlene Foster on behalf of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board which has provided support and sponsorship for the much anticipated game.
The game, which is also being sponsored by Belfast City Council, will mark the ten year anniversary of the Odyssey since it opened in 2000 and began hosting the Belfast Giants.
The Boston Bruins are one of the most famous hockey teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) and the securing of the game in Belfast is expected to attract over 4,500 out of state visitors and generate over £800,000 into the local economy, as ice hockey fans across the UK and America travel to witness the Bruins’ inaugural European game.
Ms Foster, the Minister for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, said: “The visit of the Boston Bruins is great news for Northern Ireland and will attract a huge boost to the tourism industry.
“his will be the first time that the National Hockey League is playing here and provides an excellent opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland as a top tourist destination. “
Belfast Giants General Manager, Todd Kelman, who was in Boston last week to agree the deal with the Bruins, said: “This is a big day for the Giants and a big day for the entire league.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming the Bruins to Belfast to see our great city and to give our fans the opportunity to witness one of the best ice hockey teams in the world in action.
“This game is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Belfast Giant’s ten year anniversary having been playing at the Odyssey since it opened a decade ago.”
The Boston Bruins will play the pre-season exhibition game against a special Belfast Giants Selects team at the Odyssey Arena
“The visit in October by the Bruins to play our Belfast Giants is as a result of a lot of hard work and collaboration between a range of organisations and Belfast City Council is proud to have played its part in securing its visit. “
Alan Gibson, Chairman of the Odyssey Trust Company, which was instrumental in securing the game for Northern Ireland, added: “We are delighted that the Boston Bruins, who are one of the original National Hockey League teams, have chosen the Odyssey as the first venue in their European tour.
“We are extremely proud of our Belfast Giants team and the securing of this game is another major achievement in the team’s ten year history and another brilliant milestone in the successful history of the Odyssey.”
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who recently signed with the Bruins for a further two years, said that the game in Northern Ireland was one of the reasons he wanted to re-sign.
"It'll be awesome ... It'll be unbelievable," he told the Boston Herald. "My mom is from Belfast. I'm excited about this. I've been talking about it since we first heard about it. “
Other sponsors of the game include Invest NI and Tourism Ireland.
Tickets are on sale from Ticketmaster on 0870 2434455, or the Odyssey Box Office on 028 9073 9074. Ticket prices range from £40. For more information or to book online visit www.belfastgiants.com or www.ticketmaster.ie.