On April 18 the Arena Omsk played host to the opening ceremony of the KHL’s children’s hockey tournament, the Gazprom Neft Cup. The ceremony was attended by the Chairman of Gazprom Neft Management Board Alexander Dyukov, KHL President Alexander Medvedev, Governor of the Omsk Oblast Leonid Polezhayev, and CSKA hockey legend Alexei Yashin.
During his welcome address to the tournament’s participants, Alexander Dyukov remarked, “The Gazprom Neft Cup is the company’s flagship project in the area of youth sports, and Russia’s largest international tournament for children. Throughout its six years of existence, the Gazprom Neft Cup has grown into one of the best-represented children’s contests in the country. The level of organisation at the tournament matches that of adult competitions: games are officiated by KHL referees, the Gazprom Neft Cup final is broadcast live on the KHL TV network, and all matches are played at the home arenas of professional clubs. The number of fans is also growing, with 8000 spectators having gathered to watch this year’s opening ceremony. However, we are not going to rest on our laurels; together with the Continental Hockey League, we are aiming to make this the best children’s hockey tournament in all of Europe”.
Alexander Medvedev told the audience how the level of representation of the tournament rises with each passing year, along with the standard of its organisation: “Look at the list of participants: there are children’s teams representing most of the KHL’s leading clubs. This year sees the tournament debuts of teams from the hockey schools of Dinamo from Riga, Atlant from Moscow Region and Neftekhimik from Nizhnekamsk. CSKA Moscow have resumed participation. Comparing this year’s tournament with 2007, when it started, the number of teams taking part has risen from 6 to 16, which is over 400 players. Next year we plan to extend invitations to the children’s teams of all KHL clubs, as well as clubs from Sweden and Finland”.
Also at the opening ceremony, tournament participants and numerous fans were treated to a unique multimedia show based on the technology of free format holographic 3D projection. Spectators witnessed a performance by artists from the Khamars drum theatre before the Gazprom Neft Cup itself was unveiled by Alexei Yashin and players of Traktor Chelyabinsk. The Gazprom Neft Cup opening ceremony finished with a supergame between the two most recent tournament winners, as the children of Traktor Chelyabinsk and Avangard Omsk crossed sticks on the ice of Arena Omsk. During breaks and at the end of the match, prize draws were held for the spectators, with prizes including games consoles and the grand prize of a laptop computer. The match ended in a convincing
The first Gazprom Neft Cup tournament took place in 2007 and included six teams. The tournament has met its organisers’ most optimistic expectations, and with each passing year the number of participating teams has increased. The tournament itself has also improved steadily. Thanks to the strategic partnership between Gazprom Neft and the KHL, the Gazprom Neft is now Russia’s largest international children’s hockey tournament. It has already become traditional for hockey stars of the past and present to perform at the competition’s opening ceremony. Given the status of the Gazprom Neft Cup as an official KHL tournament, the trophy was created by the master craftsmen responsible for the Gagarin Cup. Traditionally, the cup itself carries the name of the winning team, and is kept by that team until the following tournament.";s:4:"TYPE";s:4:"html";}