The Boston University men's ice hockey team spent Thanksgiving week in Northern Ireland at the 2018 Friendship Four, playing games overseas for the first time in program history.
The Terriers landed in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday morning after a red-eye flight from Boston Sunday evening. While in Dublin, the team got a chance to check out Trinity College— founded by Queen Elizabeth I— the oldest in Ireland, and tour the Old Library and Book of Kells. The players were able to explore the city for an evening before a road trip to Belfast the next morning.
After departing Dublin early Tuesday, the team arrived in Belfast at The SSE Arena for practice, followed by an afternoon of absorbing local Northern Irish culture. Half of the Terriers visited St. Patrick's Primary School, where the schoolchildren taught them about Irish step dancing and Gaelic football, and half visited Knocknagoney School, where they got a glance at hurling. At both school visits, the guys got the chance to show off some of their ice hockey skills to the children and teach them about the sport. Ice hockey has grown in recent years in Northern Ireland, and the children were enthused and captivated by it.
Following their school visits, the team joined the three other Friendship Four teams —UConn, Union and Yale— for a reception at Belfast City Hall. At the reception, each team received a tour of the historic building and were honored by Belfast's Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey and the Hockey East and ECAC commissioners. Following the reception, the Terriers had a team dinner and time to explore the city.
If you ask any of the players, they'll probably say that Wednesday was their favorite day of the Belfast trip. After a practice early in the morning, the travel party took a bus tour up to the coast of Northern Ireland. They stopped at the Dark Hedges, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the world-famous Giant's Causeway. Although it was brisk and windy, the views and landscape of coastal Ireland were unique and breathtaking.
Thursday offered the guys the chance to see Belfast for themselves and to explore the city on foot. After practice in the morning, the Terriers had free time between lunch and dinner to peruse Belfast's shops, bakeries and unparalleled Christmas Market. The City of Belfast and the Friendship Four hosted a Thanksgiving dinner and banquet that evening for the four teams and their fans at the Titanic Museum.
Friday was game day, and after a morning skate with the entire squad, the focus was on UConn. The contest counted in the Hockey East standings, as the Terriers gave up a scheduled home game as part of the tournament.
Union advanced in the tournament's first game via shootout after a 1-1 tie with Yale. BU erased deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 against the Huskies before sophomore Ty Amonte
provided the game-winner early in the third period to push the Terriers to a 3-2 victory and a spot in the championship game. Junior goaltender Jake Oettinger
stopped a season-high 39 shots while junior Patrick Curry
and sophomore Logan Cockerill
scored BU's first two goals.
BU 3, UConn 2 - Recap | Box Score | Highlights | Photo Gallery
Saturday morning provided the last chance to check out the area around the hotel and Belfast City Hall before the travel party packed the buses before the final games of the tournament.
Yale topped UConn, 6-3, in the consolation before the main event between the Terriers and Dutchmen. Union took a 1-0 lead midway through the first but Amonte came through again, scoring in the final minute of the opening period. The Dutchmen regained the lead at 3:25 of the second before riding the hot goaltending of tournament MVP Darion Hanson to hold off BU, 2-1, and claim the title.
Union 2, BU 1 - Recap | Box Score | Highlights
The team then crossed back into Ireland for a final night just north of Dublin before flying back to Boston on Sunday morning.