Sport

Backing for Belfast 'Beanpot' tournament

Nigel Ringland

THE Belfast Giants had an extra skater on the ice at practice yesterday morning as they prepared to take on the early Elite League leaders, Coventry Blaze at the Odyssey Arena tonight.

Boston mayor Marty Walsh was there to give his backing to a bid to bring a major ice hockey tournament to Belfast in 2016.

Mayor Walsh declared his support for the Odyssey Trust initiative to bring the university Beanpot tournament to the city.

Mayor Walsh explained: "The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Beanpot - featuring Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern - is one of the biggest tournaments in the entire hockey season and has a huge following in Boston and right across the US.

"In the 62 years since its inception it has become the official battle for Boston's hockey bragging rights and is widely known as the 'social event of the winter season'.

"In light of the recent sister city twinning between Belfast and Boston, which is underpinned by a longstanding connection between the two cities through ice hockey, I think it would be wonderful to bring the Beanpot to Belfast and am lending my support to the campaign."

Mayor Walsh will host a delegation from the Odyssey Trust and Belfast Giants at Boston City Hall in early October this year, where they will meet with the NCAA and representatives from the four Boston universities to discuss how the initiative can be taken forward.

Meanwhile, after losing for the first time in the league this season at Sheffield last Sunday night, the Giants begin a five game homestand over the next three weekends against a Coventry side unbeaten in their opening four games.

"We know that every game will be a test this year and for Coventry to have won all their games so far against teams in the league shows what a solid team they are," said Giants coach Steve Thornton.

"They were one of the few sides to win at the Odyssey last season when they came in here early in the season and dominated and guys remember that so after coming off a tough road loss this is a big game for us.

The Giants are at home again tomorrow afternoon. It's a 4pm face-off for the game against the Fife Flyers.

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