Men’s hockey team set for international series


Men’s hockey will be spending Thanksgiving overseas on Irish ice next year.

Next season, the team is traveling to Belfast, Northern Ireland Nov. 25 to 26 over Thanksgiving break to compete in the “Friendship Four” tournament.

Athletic director Bob Corran, who was born in Belfast and moved to North America when he was young, said the trip is a “genuine educational opportunity” for the players.

“It’s not simply going to Ireland, having a nice trip and playing a couple hockey games,” Corran said.

The team will participate in school visits and youth clinics as part of an effort to help with Belfast’s neighborhood relations, according to UVM athletics.

“There’s a continuing strife” in Belfast as a result of tension between Northern Ireland, which is mainly Protestant, and the rest of the island, which is mainly Catholic, Corran said. 

“We’re trying to organize what we can here in terms of them learning about the social issues, the political issues, so that [the team is] that much better able to really have an impact when they’re there,” he said.

This trip also carries high stakes for the team next season.

The last time UVM athletics played internationally was men’s basketball’s 2014 summer Canadian tour, but Corran said  there is “a lot more on the line” on this trip, as one game will count toward the Hockey East standings while another will be treated as a regular NCAA non-conference game.

“[The 2014 summer tour] was a great opportunity for a new team to develop and get some extra practice; this is different,” he said. “These games count.”

Head coach Kevin Sneddon said the trip to Northern Ireland is a “win-win” for the team.

“We have a chance to go over there and do a lot of things within their community, with school visits and experiencing a different culture, and there’s the hockey,” Sneddon said.

Junior forward Brendan Bradley said he has family ties to Ireland: his father was born there, and he still has a lot of family there. He said he visited last summer.

“It’s going to be a really good time,” Bradley said. 

Junior forward Jarrid Privitera sees the games as a valuable opportunity

“I think it’ll be big for our team, to bond together and have a week in Ireland,” Privitera said.

The first game will be Nov. 25 against UMass Amherst, followed by a game against either Quinnipiac University or St. Lawrence University Nov. 26.