The 9th Gazprom Neft Cup KHL Kids Hockey Tournament opened on April 25. In 2015 the tournament is also being held according to Kontinental Hockey League principles — in two groups (West and East). For the first time there are 25 teams taking part in the Cup.
West Group (St Petersburg): Atlant (Moscow Region), Vityaz (Moscow Region), Dinamo (Minsk), Dynamo (Moscow), Dinamo (Riga), Donbass (Donetsk), Yokerit (Helsinki), Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl), Severstal (Cherepovets), SKA (St Petersburg), Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod), CSKA (Moscow), and Yamal (Salekhard).
East Group (Omsk): Avangard (Omsk Region), Avtomobilist (Yekaterinburg), Ak Bars (Kazan), Barys (Astana), Metallurg (Magnitogorsk), Metallurg (Novokuznetsk), Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk), Rubin (Tyumen), Salavat Yulaev (Ufa), Sibir (Novosibirsk), Traktor (Chelyabinsk), and Yugra (Khanty-Mansiysk).
The puck is the primary focus!
The games in the West and the East Groups will take place on April 25–27. In St Petersburg, the opening and closing games of the group stage will be held in SKA’s home arena, the Ice Palace. The other games will take place in the Yubileyny sports palace. In Omsk, the main venue for the Gazprom Neft Cup is the Omsk Arena, where on April 29 they will hold the Tournament Super Final between the winners of the East and the West Groups. Games are also being held in the Avangard hockey centre.
In the opening game of the East Group, Omsk team Avangard won against Kazan’s Ak Bars with a score of 5:1. The game and the tournament opening ceremony were held in front of more than 9,000 fans and spectators filling up the stands at the Omsk Arena that day.
Ak Bars — Avangard. Go!
The welcome address to the participants and visitors to the competition at the Omsk Arena was delivered by the minister for youth affairs, physical culture, and sport in the Omsk Region, Aleksandr Fabritsius, and by head of Gazprom Neft’s department of regional development, Sergei Bilkei. Aleksandr Fabritsius emphasized that Omsk has been the traditional capital of the Gazprom Neft Cup, the city that hosts the tournament Super Final to award the main prize: “We really love hockey and are proud not only of the adult Avangard team, but of all the guys who will defend the honour of the Omsk club and other KHL teams in the future. I am sure that this Gazprom Neft Cup will be the first important stage in the professional career of another generation of Russian hockey players and young players from other countries.”
The group stage of the tournament will finish with games on April 27. The Super Final of the Gazprom Neft Cup will be held on April 29 in Omsk, and will be broadcast live on KHL TV.
The Gazprom Neft Cup International Tournament is one of the most significant children’s hockey competitions in Europe, for youth KHL teams of children aged up to 11. The tournament is run on the ‘divisional’ model, with teams divided into two groups — ‘East’ and ‘West’.
The first Gazprom Neft Cup tournament was held in 2007, with the number of participants, the status of the tournament, and the geographic range of the teams taking part increasing every year. Cup holders in the years since the Gazprom Neft Cup received its status as the official KHL children’s tournament in 2010 have been Avangard, Traktor, Ak Bars, and CSKA (Moscow), who have won this special trophy two years in a row.
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 (they are presented with a copy of the trophy prior to the start of the next championship).
The level of organization of the Gazprom Neft Cup is unprecedented for a children’s competition: match referees are highly qualified, games are played on ice arenas certified for KHL matches, and tournament action is covered by leading sports media. Since 2014, the tournament programme has also included workshops for coaches (attended by leading figures in sport), as well as lectures for parents of young sportsmen (from sports psychologists), and a full excursion programme.
The Gazprom Neft Cup attracts considerable interest among Russian and international media, with the opening ceremony, the first match, and the Super Final of the tournament all broadcast live on KHL TV. The multimedia opening show is on a level with shows opening leading KHL club games. The tournament’s official partners include Russian TV channels Russia-24, Sport, NTV Plus, KHL TV, the Internet site Championat.com and Sport-Express newspaper. The tournament is sponsored by SOGAZ, the official insurance company of the tournament.