Belfast to host World Championship tournament

The 2017 World Championship (Division 1B) tournament will be held in the UK at Belfast’s SSE Arena.

Ice Hockey UK, in conjunction with The SSE Arena, Belfast and the Belfast Giants, won the vote which took place at the IIHF Congress in Russia on Friday.

They beat Estonia 18-7 for the right to host in a vote by the IIHF council members and the six teams in the division.

Great Britain will now host Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Japan who were relegated from Division 1A and Netherlands who were promoted back from Division 2A at the first time of asking.

Richard Grieveson, IHUK Chairman, said: “This is a massive moment for ice hockey in the UK.

“The IIHF have shown faith in us to deliver at this prestigious level. This, I believe, demonstrates the increasing credibility we have on an international stage.

“We must use this success as a driver to continue on our journey of improvement and development at a domestic level.

“It has been a long time since the UK hosted a men’s World Championship and it is very exciting we will be doing so again.

“A lot of hard work went into the bid and the work now begins on getting ready for the tournament.

“We are looking forward to working with Belfast Giants, The SSE Arena and our partners in Belfast on this project.”

The arena in Belfast has a capacity of 7,200 and was opened back in 2000.

Belfast City’s Lord Mayor, councillor Arder Carson, said: “This is another wonderful coup for my home city and Belfast City Council and all the partners involved should be rightly proud in bringing yet another international event to the city.

“I would like to publicly thank the Belfast Giants and International Ice Hockey Federation for giving us the opportunity to show what we can offer.

“Plus Belfast, in 2017, will be a fantastic year for sport, not only will we have some of the world’s best ice hockey teams here, we will also be the host city for UEFA’s U19 Women’s Football Championships and the Women’s Rugby World Cup, so roll on next year.”

Steve Thornton, Head of Hockey Operations for the Giants, said: “I’m delighted that the city of Belfast has been chosen to host the prestigious 2017 World Championship.

“The successful bid was down to a lot of hard work by Ice Hockey UK, Odyssey Trust, the SSE Arena and Belfast City Council – without them, this would not have been possible.

“I’d like to thank everyone who supported the bid and we will be working closely with Ice Hockey UK on packages that will allow us to welcome many fans to Northern Ireland in April 2017.”

The tournament is scheduled to run from Sunday 23rd to Saturday 29th April 2017, but the dates are yet to be fully ratified. Ticket details and prices will be announced in due course.

The venue for the GB U20 tournament in December was also decided, with Hungary confirmed as hosts. Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine complete the group.

GB U18 Women will take part in the newly-formed Division 1B. This tournament will be held in Jastrzebie in Poland where GB will face the hosts, along with China, Denmark, Italy and Kazakhstan in January 2017.

A decision on the venues for the GB Women and GB U18 Men tournaments has been deferred until the IIHF’s Semi-Annual Congress in September.

Korea have put in a bid to host both events and wish to use it as a taster for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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