The 8th International Gazprom Neft Cup KHL Youth Ice Hockey Tournament ended in Omsk on April 25, with CSKA exacting 1:0 Super Final win against Ak Bars.
For the first time in its eight-year history the Gazprom Neft Cup Tournament was contested by 24 teams and games were held simultaneously in two cities. In Minsk, CSKA emerged the winner in the West Group, while Ak Bars prevailed in the East Group competition in Omsk.
The Belarusian games were held in the new Chizhovka Arena sports complex built for the 2014 World Hockey Championship. The East Group had their games in the Avangard hockey centre and the Omsk Arena, the home ground of the Avangard KHL Club.
The Gazprom Neft Cup games generated a storm of interest among hockey fans. The opening ceremony in Omsk was attended by a record number of 8,700 spectators, while 5,000 turned out for the parallel ceremony and opening match in Minsk. The Super Final in Omsk also drew a crowd of 5,000.
The Tournament is one of Gazprom Neft’s key social projects in the development of children’s sport and is organized to the standards of major international competitions. The Gazprom Neft Cup is also currently Russia’s largest informal open championship for players aged up to 11 years and Europe’s largest youth hockey tournament.
“The Gazprom Neft Cup’s status of official KHL tournament entails the involvement of all the league clubs that have children’s sports schools,” said the head of the Organizing Committee of the Tournament, Gazprom Neft board member Alexander Dybal. “Twenty-four teams is not the limit. The number of participants in our Cup should gradually equal the number of teams in the League.”
“The biggest challenge in conducting this year’s Tournament was to maintain the traditionally high level of organization while holding the competition in two countries simultaneously,” said Mr Dybal. “Judging from the successful group stages in Omsk and Minsk, we coped with the task.”
Tournament matches in the East and West groups, the deciding game in Minsk and the Super Final of the Gazprom Neft Cup were broadcast on the KHL channel.