The 10th Gazprom Neft Cup KHL International Kids Hockey Tournament concluded in Omsk (West Siberia) on April 24 with the final game between Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (West Group) and Traktor Chelyabinsk (East Group). The cup was won this year by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl with a score of 5:2. More than 7,500 fans came to watch the decider of the Gazprom Neft Cup at the Omsk Arena.
Tournament games were held simultaneously in two cities: West Group teams competed in the Olympic city of Sochi, on the Black Sea, and games in East Group were held in the West Siberian city of Omsk. A total of 26 teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Finland took part in the tournament in its anniversary year, setting a new record for the number of competitors.
In Sochi, tournament games were hosted at two Olympic arenas: the Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Iceberg Skating Palace. Games in East Group were played at the Avangard hockey centre and the Omsk Arena. The Gazprom Neft Cup is Europe’s biggest ice hockey competition for players under 11 years of age and drew strong public interest. On April 20, the gala opening ceremony and first tournament game between Dynamo Moscow and CSKA Moscow at the Bolshoy Ice Dome were attended by more than 11,000 fans — a record audience for a Cup game.
The President of Russia Vladimir Putin sent a special message to Gazprom Neft Cup participants, noting that the tournament is celebrating its 10th anniversary in good shape and has earned a reputation as Europe’s best-known and most respected competitive gathering in the world of children’s ice hockey.
The tournament is the main social project of the Russian oil company Gazprom Neft in the sphere of children’s sport. The level of organisation of the Gazprom Neft Cup matches that of large-scale European tournaments. The opening game and the Super Final were broadcast live on the Russian ice-hockey channel KHL TV, and the tournament’s general partner was major Russian sports channel Match TV.
“This first big anniversary is a very important step for the Gazprom Neft Cup, and a chance to reflect on what has been achieved so far. In 10 years we have become an international sports event, held simultaneously in two cities, with 26 teams taking part, covered by leading sports media, and drawing packed houses for the opening and final games. We wanted to create the best international ice hockey tournament for children, and that is what we have done! On one of the 2016 tournament days, we received an official address from President of Russia Vladimir Putin with words of support. The next step is to expand the geographical reach of this competition to other ice hockey countries which are not yet represented in the KHL. We are already discussing options with the League, which would enable us to take one team from each such country,” said Alexander Dybal, member of the Gazprom Neft Management Board and chairman of the Tournament Organizing Committee.
The Gazprom Neft Cup KHL International Kids Hockey Tournament, which was held for the first time in 2007, brings together teams of children aged up to 11. The event is now one of the most significant children’s hockey competitions in Europe run on the ‘group’ model.
All costs of the tournament, including board and lodging for the teams, transport, organization of the opening and closing shows, conduct of games, advertising and media coverage, the prize fund and souvenirs, training seminars for coaches, and a full excursion programme for the teams, are borne by the Russian oil company Gazprom Neft.
The level of organization of the Gazprom Neft Cup is unprecedented for a children’s tournament: match officials are highly qualified, games are played on ice arenas certified for KHL matches, the tournament action is covered by leading sports media, and game commentary is provided by professional journalists. The tournament trophy (the Gazprom Neft Cup) is hand made by the same craftsmen who created the Gagarin Cup (the most coveted ice hockey trophy in Russia). Every year, at the end of the tournament, the name of the winning team is engraved on the Cup and retained by that team for the next 12 months. Cup holders in the years since the Gazprom Neft Cup received its status as the official KHL children’s tournament have been: Avangard (2010), Traktor (2011), Ak Bars (2012), CSKA (2013, 2014), and Dynamo Moscow (2015).
The scale and quality of the multimedia opening show is on a par with shows at leading KHL club games. The opening ceremony and the Super Final of the tournament are broadcast live on the Russian ice-hockey channel KHL TV. The tournament’s general partner is Match TV and its information partners include the radio holding European Media Group, Avtoradio, the Internet site Championat.com, and Sport-Express newspaper. Other tournament partners include CCM and Honka.