College hockey will once again head to Northern Ireland this coming November.
ECAC Hockey’s St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac, along with Massachusetts and Vermont from Hockey East, are slated to compete in the second annual Friendship Four Tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland Nov. 25-26, 2016.
The teams will first compete against their conference rival in a league contest before a crossover game. 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,” ECAC Hockey commissioner Steve Hagwell said in a statement. “Our friends in Belfast provided a tremendous first-class experience for everyone involved in the 2015 inaugural event. 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.”
The squads will square off at the SSE Arena, home of the Belfast Giants, a professional team in Elite Ice Hockey League. The arena also hosted the inaugural Friendship Four Tournament in 2015, a four-game set that featured Brown, Colgate, Massachusetts-Lowell and Northeastern.
Additionally, the four teams will take part in cultural experiences, including visiting with youth groups and exploring the 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.