Belfast wins bid to host 2017 World Ice Hockey Championship competition

Belfast Giants' player Colin Shields
Colin Shields was one of the Belfast players who represented Britain at this year's World Championship Division 1B

Belfast will host next year's World Ice Hockey Championship third-tier event after the city's bid was accepted by the sport's world governing body.

The Belfast bid won a vote at the International Ice Hockey Federation's annual congress in Russia on Friday.

Belfast beat an Estonian bid by 18-7 in a ballot of IIHF council members and the six competing countries.

Ice Hockey UK, in conjunction with the SSE Arena and the Belfast Giants, submitted the bid.

Ice Hockey UK chairman Richard Grieveson described the news as a "massive moment" for the sport in the UK.

"A lot of hard work went into the bid and the work now begins on getting ready for the tournament," said the Ice Hockey UK chairman.

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

Great Britain will be joined by Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Japan and the Netherlands at the Division 1B Championship, which is scheduled to run from 23-29 April.

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

Belfast's Lord Mayor, councillor Arder Carson described the successful bid "as a wonderful coup" for the city.

"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 Under-19 Women's Football Championships and the Women's Rugby World Cup," said the Belfast Lord Mayor.

Great Britain missed out on promotion from this year's World Championships Division 1B tournament in Zagreb last month after being edged out 2-1 by Ukraine in their final match.