Gazprom Neft has concluded a cooperation agreement with the Sochi City Administration providing for the Western Group knock-out stage of the Gazprom Neft Cup KHL Kids’ Hockey Tournament to be held in the city on a permanent basis. The agreement was signed by Anatoly Pakhomov, Head of the Soch City Administration, and Alexander Dybal, Chairman of the Tournament Committee and Member of the Management Board, Gazprom Neft during the Sochi International Investment Forum 2016.
With effect from 2017 all Gazprom Neft Cup “Western Group” matches will be held at the Bolshoi and Iceberg Olympic ice stadia, with “Eastern Group” matches and the Super Final being held, as is traditional, in Omsk.
Anatoly Pakhomov, Head of the Sochi Administration, commented: “Running an international hockey tournament will be a major event for the city, and will promote the development of children’s and young people’s sport. The importance of such a tournament was endorsed by the President of Russia in his address to participants of the 2016 anniversary tournament. We are delighted that our city’s Olympic heritage is being used for the benefit of the country’s next generation, and have no doubt that the level of organisation of the Gazprom Neft Cup will continue to grow year after year.”
A view endorsed by Alexander Dybal, Chairman of the Tournament Committee and Member of the Management Board, Gazprom Neft. “We are grateful to the Sochi Administration and the Governor of the Krasnodarsky Krai for their close cooperation in holding the anniversary International Kids’ Hockey Tournament in 2016. It was very important to all tournament participants that matches were held at Olympic arenas. I have no doubt that acquiring a permanent venue in the city of the 2014 Games will open up new opportunities for the Gazprom Neft Cup and act as a further stimulus in developing children’s hockey in Sochi.”
The Gazprom Neft Cup is Europe’s most important hockey tournament for under-11s, run on the “group” or “divisional” model. Its expansion has been achieved exclusively through children’s teams from KHL clubs, with teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Finland now taking part in the tournament.
The level of organisation of the Gazprom Neft Cup is unprecedented for a children’s competition: matches are referred by professional linesmen, games are played on ice arenas certified for professional KHL-team matches, and tournament action is covered by leading sports media. The ultimate trophy of the tournament (the Gazprom Neft Cup), is produced by the same master craftsmen as the Gagarin Cup, the most important hockey trophy in Russia. Every year the cup is engraved with the name of the winning team, and remains in their ownership until the following tournament. Winners of the Gazprom Neft Cup since its being awarded the status of the official KHL kids’ tournament are Avangard (2010), Traktor (2011), AK Bars (2012), CSKA (2013, 2014) and Dinamo (Moscow, 2015).
The multimedia show during the Opening Ceremony matched those of leading KHL clubs, with both the Opening Ceremony and Super Final being broadcast live on KHL-TV. Match TV was the tournament’s main partner in 2016, with European Media Group Ltd, the Championat.com website and the Sport-Express newspaper information partners. Corporate partners included CCM and Honka.
All tournament-related expenses (including team accommodation, subsistence and transportation), as well as organisational of the opening and closing ceremonies, all matches, advertising and media relations, the prize fund and tournament souvenirs, training seminars for coaches, and an excursion programme for competing teams, are met by Gazprom Neft.
“Western Group” matches were held in Sochi for the first time in 2016. The Opening Ceremony, and the opening match, between Moscow’s Dynamo and CSKA youth teams, saw a record 11,000 fans attending the tournament. The final Western Group match was won by Yaroslavl’s Lokomotiv, which went on to meet Chelabinsk’s Traktor (winners of the Eastern Group) in the Super Final, winning the Gazprom Neft Cup for the first time with a 5:2 victory.