This Friday will see the Great Britain Ice Hockey teams find out where their respective World Championship tournaments will be held during next season.
Ice Hockey UK, in conjunction with The SSE Arena, Belfast and the Belfast Giants, have submitted a bid to host the 2017 World Championship Division 1B Mens Tournament. The SSE arena in Belfast was opened back in 2000 and has a capacity of 7,200.
Also bidding to host the tournamen are Estonia, who have submitted a bid to host the tournament in Tallinn in April 2017.
The six-team group will consist of Great Britain, Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Japan who were relegated from Division 1A and Netherlands who were promoted from Division 2A.
Ice Hockey UK chairman, Richard Grieveson, said: “IHUK are delighted to work with the Belfast Giants organisation and stakeholders in Belfast in order to bid to host World Championship ice hockey in the UK.
“The IHUK board feel that we can now build on our experience of hosting the recent Women’s, Under-20s and Under-18s tournaments in Dumfries – and take the next natural progression by bidding to host the men’s tournament.
“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity and I am delighted that the Belfast Giants organisation have come on board as our partner.
“We have strong support from government officials, Sport Northern Ireland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland – all of whom will come together to plan and deliver the event if our bid is successful.
“I am confident that we will replicate the fantastic partnership we have established in Dumfries with Belfast officials and, if successful, deliver a high-quality World Championship.
“The board are committed to providing opportunities for our players and supporters to watch, first hand, the highest possible level of ice hockey.
“It is especially important for our younger players to see elite competition and aspire to reach these levels in the future.
“As our experience in Dumfries has told us, hosting these events contributes significantly to the local economy and helps us to evidence how our sport can also have wider social benefits to communities.
“I urge all supporters to get behind our bids. We will do our very best to secure these events at Congress in Moscow this week. These are exciting times.”
Steve Thornton, head of hockey operations for the Stena Line Belfast Giants, said: “The SSE Arena and the city of Belfast would be a fantastic place to host the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
“We have a great relationship with Ice Hockey UK and I know the six competing nations, as well as their fans, would have a great week in Northern Ireland.
“Belfast is easily one of the most welcoming cities in the world and, if the bid is successful, we would be excited to bring our famous Giants game nights to the international stage.”
The Men’s Under 20’s Division 1B tournament see’s 5 of the 6 teams involved in the tournament looking to host the event in December 2016.
The tournament will feature Great Britain, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Ukraine. Only Ukraine have decided not to bid for the tournament.
The Men’s Under 18’s Division 2A tournament also see’s 5 of the 6 competitors bidding to host the tournament.
Great Britain will face Korea, Romania, Lithuania, Croatia and Estonia, with Romania the only country not looking to host the tournament.
Ice Hockey UK, in conjunction with the Dumfries Ice Bowl and Dumfries and Galloway Council, have submitted a bid to host the Under-20 and Under 18 World Championship tournaments next season.
The Dumfries Ice Bowl has already successfully hosted three international tournaments, including the Under-20s and Under-18s in the 2013-14 season and the Women’s Division 2A tournament in 2015.
Ice Hockey UK chairman, Richard Grieveson, said: “We are excited to be putting in a bid for these tournaments and to be working with Dumfries and Galloway Council on this.
“We have established a strong and successful track record of hosting World Championships in Dumfries and we will seek to continue this by bidding for both the Under-18 and Under-20 tournaments at Congress.”
Councillor Colin Smyth, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s events champion, said: “Ice hockey is a fantastic game to play and watch and Dumfries is a hot spot for the sport within the UK.
“We know that competition will be fierce to land either the World Championship at either Under-20s or Under-18s level.
“But the Council is keen to continue to further develop ice hockey in the South of Scotland and we will provide every support to Ice Hockey UK to seek to secure one of these superb tournaments.”
The Womens Division 2A tournament will be held in April 2017 and will see Great Britain take on Netherlands, Korea, DPR Korea, Slovenia nd Australia. Netherlands, Korea and Slovenia have all submitted bids to host the tournament, which last season was held in Slovenia.
The only tournament involving a Great Britain team that has just a single host bidder is the Womens Under 18 Division 1B tournament. Poland are the only applicant to host this tournament which will feature Great Britain, Poland, Denmark, Italy, Kazakhstan and China.
All of the venues are expected to be announced at the IIHF Annual Congress in Moscow on Friday morning.