NCAA Hockey: 2016 Friendship Four announces teams to compete in Belfast
BOSTON - The men’s ice hockey programs from ECAC Hockey’s St. Lawrence University and Quinnipiac University and Hockey East’s University of Massachusetts and University of Vermont are slated to compete in the second annual Friendship Four Tournament to be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland it was announced Monday. The teams will first compete against their conference rival in a league contest Friday, Nov. 25 before a cross over round Saturday, Nov. 26. The winning programs will compete for the Belpot Trophy, while the two other teams will vie for third place.
“We are very excited about returning to Belfast to participate in the second annual Friendship Four tournament. Our friends in Belfast provided a tremendous first-class experience for everyone involved in the 2015 inaugural event,” said ECAC Hockey commissioner Steve Hagwell. “We are honored to have UMass, Quinnipiac, St. Lawrence and Vermont comprise the 2016 tournament field, and very much look forward having them compete in such a memorable and significant endeavor.”
“The memory of Thanksgiving in Belfast remains strong and I am pleased that four other hockey-playing institutions will get to enjoy the hospitality of our hosts,” added Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna. “We all look forward to another smashing success.”
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The squads will square off at The SSE Arena, home of the Belfast Giants, a professional team that competes within the Elite Ice Hockey League. The arena also hosted the inaugural Friendship Four Tournament in 2015, a four-game set that featured the ECAC Hockeys Brown University and Colgate University and Hockey East’s UMass Lowell River Hawks and Northeastern Huskies.
Additionally, the four teams will take part in cultural experiences, including visiting with youth groups and exploring the deep history of Northern Ireland.
Last year’s iteration of the tournament was an international success, seen on television in North America and Europe, and attended by over 20,000 spectators. The event, part of Boston and Belfast’s sister cities project, marked the first time that NCAA college hockey was played outside of North America.