The Friendship Four ice hockey tournament will take place again in 2022.

The UMass Lowell River Hawks are competing at an overseas venue that witnessed one of the greatest triumphs in program history.

After a two-year hiatus caused by the global pandemic, the Friendship Four ice hockey tournament returns on Friday night with two semifinal matches at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

No. 4 Quinnipiac (9-1-2) takes on his ECAC traveling partner Dartmouth (1-4-1) in the opener, while No. 14 Lowell (8-5-0) takes on Hockey East rivals No. 17 UMass (6 -5-1) in the nightcap. The winners advance to the title game, while the losers play in the consolation game on Saturday.

“It’s exciting to return to a tournament that you’re a little bit familiar with, but they’ve made great strides in hosting the event,” said UML coach Norm Bazin. “In the seven years since the event started, they’ve surpassed a lot of those Ts and scored a lot of those Is.”

Boston and Belfast are sister cities and the original premise was cultural exchange through college hockey. The plan caught on, with former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Arder Carson, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, lobbying for it. The Friendship Four was originally called the “Belfast Beanpot” and the championship trophy is the Belpot.

The four teams invited to the inaugural Friendship Four in 2015 were Lowell, Northeastern, Brown and Colgate, and they set a competitive standard that may never be equaled. The River Hawks were the No. 4 nation going into the tournament, but that didn’t matter across the Atlantic

Lowell fought from behind to beat Northeastern 3-2 in overtime. The championship match against Brown provided even greater drama.

Lowell forward CJ Smith split the game 5-5 with an extra skater on the ice with 39 seconds left. Lowell defenseman Dylan Zink scored the only goal in the shootout that brought the first belpot to the Merrimack Valley. The 2022 River Hawks have plenty of motivation to reclaim that glory.

“You can use the past as a learning experience,” Bazin said. “None of these young men know the players who took part in 2015, but that may be their experience.”

In Hockey East, Boston College vs. Boston University were dominant rivalries along with New Hampshire vs. Maine when the conference was formed in 1984. But Hockey East underwent a reshaping of the power structure over the past decade as Lowell began to sideline the big boys. Lowell has won three Hockey East titles since 2013.

UMass rose to the top of the frozen food chain under coach Greg Carvel by winning the 2021 National Championship and the last two Hockey East crowns.

“I wouldn’t say buildings, the rivalry has been built and they are our rival,” Carvel said. “When I first joined UMass seven years ago I was told that this was our rival but we couldn’t beat them the first few times we played them.

“Then we started winning some games and now it really feels like a strong rivalry. It’s definitely a rivalry and they’re a really good hockey team.”

Carvel was in his first season at Amherst when UMass was invited to compete in the 2016 Friendship Four. Vermont beat the Minutemen in the opener and defeated Quinnipiac in the title game.

UMass drew 2-2 with St. Lawrence in the consolation game but lost on penalties. The game was very emotional for Carvel as he was both a player and head coach at St. Lawrence.

“I enjoyed every part of it except having to practice against my old team,” said Carvel. “That was difficult because all the kids on the other bench were kids that I recruited.”

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