The 10th Gazprom Neft Cup KHL International Kids Hockey Tournament opened on April 20 bringing together 26 teams from five countries: Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, and Finland. The tournament is divided into two groups; the West Group will play in Sochi and the East Group will play in Omsk.
West Group: Vityaz (Moscow region), Dinamo (Minsk), Dynamo (Moscow), Dinamo (Riga), Jokerit (Helsinki), Lada (Togliatti), Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl), Severstal (Cherepovets), SKA (St Petersburg), Spartak (Moscow), Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod), CSKA (Moscow), and Yamal (Salekhard).
East Group: Avangard (Omsk region), Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg), Ak Bars (Kazan), Amur (Khabarovsk), Barys (Astana), Metallurg (Magnitogorsk), Metallurg (Novokuznetsk), Neftekhimik (Nuzhnekamsk), Rubin (Tyumen), Salavat Yulaev (Ufa), Sibir (Novosibirsk), Traktor (Chelyabinsk), and Ugra (Khanty-Mansiysk).
In Omsk, the venue is the traditional Omsk Arena, which will also host the Super Final on April 24 between the winners of the West and East groups. In Sochi, the games will be held at Olympic arenas — in the Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Iceberg Skating Palace.
In the East Group opening game between Omsk’s Avangard and Kazan’s Ak Bars, the winner was Avangrad with the score of 5:1, and in the West Group, current Gazprom Neft Cup holders Dynamo (Moscow) took the lead over two-time champions CSKA (Moscow) with the same score of 5:1. The ice arenas of Sochi and Omsk hosted about 20,000 people.
Speaking at the opening of the Gazprom Neft Cup in Sochi, Chairman of the Management Committee of JSC GAZPROM Alexey Miller said: “The Gazprom Neft Cup is a key sports project in our ’Gazprom for Children’ programme, over 10 years it has become Europe’s largest children’s tournament. We are inspired by this success and intend to develop the tournament further as an international project, uniting young hockey players from across the continent. It is still very important to us to ensure an impeccably high level of organisation, holding games at the best venues, and creating an atmosphere of a real hockey festival!”
Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Kontinental Hockey League, added: “The Gazprom Neft Cup is an irreplaceable part of the hockey season. The tournament has already found its niche, coming at the end of the Gagarin Cup and in the run-up to the world championship. We are glad that such a significant project is taking place under the aegis of the KHL, allowing hundreds of promising kids to gain invaluable experience of taking part in high-level competitions. All future hockey stars really have something to strive for now, at that young age. I am sure that in a few years’ time, with a great deal of effort and passion, many of them will be able to play in the Junior Hockey League, and then in the KHL.”
The group stage of the tournament will conclude with the final games on April 22. On April 24, Omsk will host the Super Final, which will be broadcast live on KHL TV.
- Opening Ceremony of Gazprom Neft Cup in DS "Bolshoy" in Sochi
- Opening Ceremony of Gazprom Neft Cup in DS "Bolshoy" in OMSK
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 Gazprom Neft.
The level of organization of the Gazprom Neft Cup is unprecedented for a children’s tournament: match referees 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 ultimate trophy of tournament (the Gazprom Neft Cup) is produced by the same craftsmen as the Gagarin Cup (the most important hockey trophy in Russia). Every year, following completion of the tournament, the name of the winning team is engraved on the cup and retained by the new champions 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), Ak Bars (2011), Traktor (2012), CSKA (2013, 2014), and Dynamo (Moscow) (2015).
The multimedia opening show is on a level with shows opening leading KHL club games. The opening ceremony and the Super Final of the tournament are broadcast live on KHL TV. The tournament’s general partner is Match TV and its information partners include radio holding European Media Group, Avtoradio, the Internet site Championat.com and Sport-Express newspaper.