The Gazprom Neft Cup is Europe’s most important hockey tournament for under-11s, run on the “group” or “divisional” model. Its expansion has been achieved exclusively through children’s teams from KHL clubs, with teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Finland now taking part in the tournament.
The level of organisation of the Gazprom Neft Cup is unprecedented for a children’s competition: matches are referred by professional linesmen, games are played on ice arenas certified for professional KHL-team matches, and tournament action is covered by leading sports media. The ultimate trophy of the tournament (the Gazprom Neft Cup), is produced by the same master craftsmen as the Gagarin Cup, the most important hockey trophy in Russia. Every year the cup is engraved with the name of the winning team, and remains in their ownership until the following tournament. Winners of the Gazprom Neft Cup since its being awarded the status of the official KHL kids’ tournament are Avangard (2010), Traktor (2011), AK Bars (2012), CSKA (2013, 2014) and Dinamo (Moscow, 2015).
The multimedia show during the Opening Ceremony matched those of leading KHL clubs, with both the Opening Ceremony and Super Final being broadcast live on KHL-TV. Match TV was the tournament’s main partner in 2016, with European Media Group Ltd, the Championat.com website and the Sport-Express newspaper information partners. Corporate partners included CCM and Honka.
All tournament-related expenses (including team accommodation, subsistence and transportation), as well as organisational of the opening and closing ceremonies, all matches, advertising and media relations, the prize fund and tournament souvenirs, training seminars for coaches, and an excursion programme for competing teams, are met by Gazprom Neft.
“Western Group” matches were held in Sochi for the first time in 2016. The Opening Ceremony, and the opening match, between Moscow’s Dynamo and CSKA youth teams, saw a record 11,000 fans attending the tournament. The final Western Group match was won by Yaroslavl’s Lokomotiv, which went on to meet Chelabinsk’s Traktor (winners of the Eastern Group) in the Super Final, winning the Gazprom Neft Cup for the first time with a 5:2 victory.