The Opening Ceremony for the Gazprom Neft Cup CHL Children’s Ice Hockey Teams Tournament was held in Omsk on April 21. This year, it is the first time that the Gazprom Neft Cup ranks as the official Continental Hockey League children’s tournament. At the end of 2010, an Agreement for Cooperation was signed between Gazprom Neft and CHL, and Omsk, being one of the key regions of the Company’s presence, was selected to be the permanent venue for the tournament.
The competitions are hosted by two sports grounds that include the ice rink of the Avangard Hockey Centre and The Arena Omsk. The second and third round games of preliminary competitions will be played on April 22. The finals will take place on April 23 and 24, when the winner is to be unveiled. The Winners and Runners-Up Award Ceremony will be held on April 24. For the first time ever, the finals of the children’s tournament will be broadcasted live on the CHL Channel.
Twelve teams will participate in the tournament this season. The teams of Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg), Ak Bars (Kazan), Salavat Yulaev (Ufa), Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) and Traktor (Chelyabinsk) will debut in the competitions. Avangard (Omsk Region), Gazovik (Tyumen), Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl), Sibir (Novosibirsk) SKA (St. Petersburg), Yugra (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region) and Yamal (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region) take part in the competition as well.
“Expanding the geography of participants is conditioned by both a growing interest towards the tournament, and results of cooperation with the Continental Hockey League. Owing to the strategic partnership between Gazprom Neft and CHL, the tournament will become one of the brightest events in the children's hockey season calendar. In the future, we are looking at bringing the tournament to the international level. Investments to support the children’s and youth’s sports are a significant part of Gazprom Neft’s social policy”, - Alexander Dybal, Gazprom Neft Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications, said in his speech at the opening ceremony for the tournament.
“The Gazprom Neft Cup is a bright, remarkable and considerate event not only for the children’s sports, but also for the entire Russian ice hockey, as the growth of outstanding ice hockey players starts from children’s sports schools where sports are loved and supported”, - Leonid Polezhaev, Omsk Governor, pointed out.
The first Gazprom Neft Cup Children's Ice Hockey Tournament was held in 2007 in Omsk and followed by Khanty-Mansiysk (2008) and Salekhard (2009). In 2010, for the first time under the auspice of the Continental Hockey League, the tournament was for held in Omsk again.
During the Tournament, young hockey players, apart from playing in official tournament matches, attend master classes and take part in contests for the best performance and best physical fitness; also, friendly matches are played between the 'USSR Ice Hockey Legends' team and the picked team of the host region.