Men’s ice hockey receives invite to Northern Ireland

Marina Boyle, Managing editor

The Mercyhurst men’s hockey team has been invited to play in the Friendship Four hockey tournament in Northern Ireland in November of 2020. The Lakers will join Sacred Heart University, the U.S. Military Academy and Quinnipiac University for games on Nov. 27 and 28.

Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland, has hosted the Friendship Four tournament for the last five years. The aim of the tournament is to showcase American college hockey to people across the world. Director of Athletics Brad Davis was the driving force in getting Mercyhurst into the tournament after hearing that organizers wanted teams from Mercyhurst’s conference, the Atlantic Hockey Association.

The tournament presents a new opportunity, for a team that has never traveled overseas to play. “This is a wonderful opportunity for not only our men’s hockey program but really for our entire Mercyhurst University community as well,” coach Rick Gotkin said. “Our program will once again have the privilege to help spread the gospel about Mercyhurst University. It is going to be a terrific opportunity for our student-athletes to learn, explore and grow while in another country as we represent Mercyhurst while playing hockey against some very good competition abroad.”

The announcement of teams was made last week at Belfast City Hall. The games will be played at SSE Arena, home of the Belfast Giants of the Elite Hockey League. Past Friendship Four tournaments have been deemed international successes, seen on television and attended by more than 20,000 spectators. Additionally, the teams will take part in cultural experiences while overseas.

“Participating in the Friendship Four tournament in 2020 will be an amazing experience for men’s hockey student-athletes,” Davis said. “They will have the opportunity to network with sponsors, visit local schools and learn and appreciate the history of Northern Ireland. The trip is so much more than just hockey and will be very educational.”

Plans include speaking with youth groups and exploring the deep history of Northern Ireland. “We talk a lot about the student-athlete experience here at Mercyhurst, and I cannot imagine any better way to enhance that experience then what our team will be taking part in in November 2020,” Gotkin said.