St Petersburg has, for the first time, been selected as a venue for the International Youth Ice Hockey Tournament — Gazprom Neft Cup, with local club SKA St Petersburg host to the most significant youth hockey tournament in Europe.
The 9th Gazprom Neft Cup will take place in April 2015, with teams from 24 Russian and international clubs taking part. As is the case in the KHL senior championship, qualifying rounds will take place, concurrently, in two groups — the “West Group” (in St Petersburg) and the “East Group” (in Omsk).
The opening game of the Tournament, as well as the West Group final, will be held at Petersburg’s main ice-hockey venue, the Ice Palace. Group-stage matches will take place at the Jubilee Palace of Sport. Consistent with tournament regulations the winner of the Gazprom Neft Cup will be determined at the super-final in Omsk.
Gazprom Neft Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Corporate Communications and head of the Gazprom Neft Cup organising committee Alexander Dybal commented: “We were delighted to accept SKA’s invitation to hold West Group matches in St. Petersburg. The club has offered us excellent facilities as well as all-round assistance for the organising committee, and St Petersburg is likely to prove a very convenient location for many youth teams. We are determined to maintain the traditionally high level of organisation surrounding the tournament, as well as providing a special cultural programme in St Petersburg for all 12 teams.”
The Gazprom Neft Cup is the most significant international kids’ hockey tournament in Europe. The first Gazprom Neft Cup was held in Omsk in 2007 as a tournament between four Siberian youth teams based in Gazprom Neft’s key areas of operation (Omsk, Tyumen, and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrugs). Omsk has been the permanent venue for the competition since 2010. The Continental Hockey League (KHL) became a partner of the tournament in 2011, with the event becoming the official KHL kids’ tournament from that date The Cup is now informally recognised as the leading open championship in Russia for children under 11, with the main tournament trophy fashioned by the same craftsmen as those behind the Gagarin Cup (the official KHL national trophy). Each year the name of the winning team is engraved on the trophy, which is kept by the winners until the next Tournament.
The Gazprom Neft Cup forms part of the company’s “Home Towns” corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, directed at optimising social and economic potential and quality of life in those regions in which the company operates — including through the development of the local civic environment, in the development of children’s and public sports facilities, and in initiatives in education, health and culture.