The XI Gazprom Neft Cup International KHL Kids Hockey Tournament opened on 22 April. Twenty-seven clubs from five countries are participating in the competition. In keeping with tradition, the tournament is divided into two groups: West Group games are being played in Sochi and East Group games in Omsk.
As in previous years, the main venue for the Gazprom Neft Cup is the Omsk Arena. In Sochi, the teams will face off at the Olympic Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Iceberg Skating Palace.
At the East Group’s opening game, Omsk’s Avangard team took on Chelyabinsk’s Traktor, with a score of 2:5 In the West Group, the defending Gazprom Neft Cup champions, Yaroslavl’s Lokomotiv, played Moscow’s CSKA with a score of 1:4. Ice-hockey fans enjoyed a grand multimedia show at the tournament arenas. At the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, more than 7000 people attended the opening game, while Omsk Arena welcomed 9500 spectators.
West Group: Vityaz (Moscow Oblast), Dinamo (Minsk), Dynamo (Moscow), Dinamo (Riga), Jokerit (Helsinki), Lada (Tolyatti), Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl), Severstal (Cherepovets), SKA (St Petersburg), Sochi (Sochi), Spartak (Moscow), Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod), CSKA (Moscow), and Yamal (Salekhard).
East Group: Avangard (Omsk Oblast), Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg), Ak Bars (Kazan), Amur (Khabarovsk), Barys (Astana), Metallurg (Magnitogorsk), Metallurg (Novokuznetsk), Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk), Rubin (Tyumen), Salavat Ulaev (Ufa), Sibir (Novosibirsk), Traktor (Chelyabinsk), and Ugra (Khanty-Mansiysk).
At the opening of the XI Gazprom Neft Cup in Sochi, Chairman of the Tournament Organising Committee and member of the Gazprom Neft Management Board Alexander Dybal said, “The International Gazprom Neft Cup Tournament has taken another step forward this year. The children’s team from the Sochi club are making their debut on the Olympic ice, their home ground. Our tournament aims to enable young ice-hockey players to experience the atmosphere of a real international sporting event, with all that comes with it: an opening ceremony, television broadcasts, an event website, and media coverage. This is a chance for these kids to gain experience by battling the strongest KHL children’s teams, and to get a feel for competition, which also means developing their skills and improving their game.”
The group stages of the tournament will conclude with the final games on 24 April. The Super Final between the winners of the East and West Groups will take place on 26 April in Omsk.
- West Group Opening Ceremony (Sochi)
- East Group Opening Ceremony (Omsk)
The Gazprom Neft Cup is the biggest children’s ice-hockey tournament for under-11 teams in Europe, and uses a group format. The tournament is growing in size, thanks to the children’s teams of the Kontinental Hockey League clubs. Teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Finland now take part in the tournament.
The Gazprom Neft Cup boasts an unprecedented level of organisation for a children’s competition: professional referees manage the games, which are played in ice arenas certified for professional KHL games, and the competition is covered by leading sports publications. The trophy itself has been made by the same craftsmen as the Gagarin Cup. Every year the name of the winning team is engraved on the Cup, and that team keeps the Cup until the next tournament. Since the Gazprom Neft Cup received its status as the official KHL Kids Hockey Tournament, winners have included Avangard (2010), Traktor (2011), Ak Bars (2012), CSKA (2013, 2014), Dynamo (Moscow) (2015), and Lokomotiv (2016).
The multimedia opening show could compete with those staged by the leading KHL clubs, and the tournament’s opening ceremony and Super Final will be shown live on KHL TV. The tournament’s main partner is Match TV; its information partners are the Avtoradio radio station and the Sport Express newspaper. The tournament is also partnered with CCM, Honka, and the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Foundation.
All costs associated with the tournament, including accommodation and meals for the players, transport, organisation of the opening and closing shows, the games, advertising and media coverage, prizes, souvenirs, training seminars for coaches and excursions for the teams are covered by Gazprom Neft.
In 2016, the West Group of the Gazprom Neft Cup was held in Sochi for the first time. The winner was Yaroslavl’s Lokomotiv, and the team went on to meet the East Group winner, Chelyabinsk’s Traktor, in the Super Final. After winning 5:2, Yaroslavl’s Lokomotiv took home the Gazprom Neft Cup for the first time.