Lord mayor welcomes Friendship Series teams to Belfast

On the eve of the opening game of the 2024 Friendship Series, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy welcomed representatives from Princeton University and Providence College’s women’s ice hockey teams to Belfast City Hall.
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The Friendship Four was born in Belfast in 2015, followed by the Friendship Series in 2019, marking the start of highly popular men’s and women’s international ice hockey tournaments, both of which continue to grow to this day. Both tournaments were devised and have been developed by The Odyssey Trust to promote education, social welfare, and community integration, building on the Sister City agreement between Belfast and Boston.

The last iteration of the Friendship Series took place between Merrimack College and Quinnipiac University in 2020, before which Clarkson University and Northeastern University went head-to-head in the inaugural tournament in 2019.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, commented: “I’m delighted to see the third edition of the women’s Friendship Series taking place in Belfast this weekend, and to have had the opportunity to welcome representatives from both teams to the city.

Providence College Women’s Ice Hockey Team present Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy with a personalised team jersey. Picture: William Cherry, Press EyeProvidence College Women’s Ice Hockey Team present Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy with a personalised team jersey. Picture: William Cherry, Press Eye
Providence College Women’s Ice Hockey Team present Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy with a personalised team jersey. Picture: William Cherry, Press Eye

“It’s a fantastic chance for local groups and sports fans to experience a very high calibre of women’s ice hockey, thanks to our Sister City relationship with Boston.

“Events such as the Friendship Series showcase Belfast and our ambitions to an international audience and provide tremendous anchors for attracting further international visitors.

“I’ve no doubt that the games will be fast, energetic, and highly competitive, so attending them will be a great way to welcome in the new year. It’s set to be an exciting year for the city as we prepare to deliver our Belfast 2024 programme of events starting in spring, celebrating our rich culture and creativity.

“Let’s make this Friendship Series the best yet, by cheering on our international athletes and giving them a great big Belfast welcome.”

Princeton University Women’s Ice Hockey Team present Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Ryan Murphy with a team jersey. Picture: William Cherry, Press EyePrinceton University Women’s Ice Hockey Team present Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Ryan Murphy with a team jersey. Picture: William Cherry, Press Eye
Princeton University Women’s Ice Hockey Team present Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Ryan Murphy with a team jersey. Picture: William Cherry, Press Eye

Taking place on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 January 2024, Providence College and Princeton University will face-off in a two-game series at The SSE Arena, Belfast, marking both teams’ first appearances in the cross-Atlantic tournament.

Robert Fitzpatrick, chief executive officer of The Odyssey Trust, said: “We’re incredibly pleased and excited to be on the cusp of the Friendship Series’ return.

“The tournament promotes and supports the incredible inroads that are being made in women’s ice hockey, and it’s an honour to welcome both teams to Belfast to showcase what they can do.

“The Odyssey Trust is committed to championing collaboration when and wherever possible, and providing opportunities for student-athletes and teams from overseas allows us to do just that.”

January’s Friendship Series precedes the return of the Friendship Four tournament, which is set to take place over Thanksgiving weekend in November 2024. Harvard University, Boston University, Merrimack College, and the University of Notre Dame will compete for the coveted Belpot Trophy, which was last won by Quinnipiac University in 2022.

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