From the 18th to the 22nd of April this year, the city of Omsk will host the fourth annual Kontinental Hockey League children’s hockey tournament - the Gazprom Neft Cup. This year the tournament achieves true international status, with teams arriving from further afield than ever before and the number of participating clubs increasing from 12 to 16. The goal of the tournament is to promote active participation in sport, to increase the popularity and aid the development of hockey for children and juniors, and to consolidate and strengthen inter-regional and international sporting links.
Taking part will be over 400 young players from leading hockey schools, all battling for the main trophy – the Gazprom Neft Cup. Competing for the coveted prize will be 14 teams from KHL clubs: Avangard, Avtomobilist, Ak Bars, Atlant, Dinamo Riga, Lokomotiv, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Neftekhimik, Salavat Yulaev, Sibir, SKA, Traktor, CSKA and Yugra, plus Gazovik of Tyumen) and Yamal of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region..
The competition will be played at two arenas – the Avangard children’s hockey center and the Arena Omsk palace of sport, which on the 18th of April hosts the opening ceremony of the Gazprom Neft Cup. Spectators and participants will be treated to a unique multimedia show and also a game between the two previous winners, Avangard (2010) and Traktor (2011).
Today, thanks to the strategic partnership between Gazprom Neft and the Kontinental Hockey League, the tournament has become the unofficial championship of Russia for players aged 12 and under, and is on a scale as large as any major children’s hockey tournament in the country.
“From the moment of its conception this tournament has made rapid progress. The status of the competition and the quality of both the hockey and the organization has grown each year without exception. In 2010 the event became an official Kontinental Hockey League tournament, and now it has achieved international status. The quality and the geographical scale of the Gazprom Neft Cup will continue to grow in the future, and the game and the accompanying celebratory events will provide unforgettable joy for all who play a part,” said Kontinental Hockey League President Alexander Medvedev.
“The goal of this tournament stays the same: to grant the opportunity to young sportsmen to test themselves and to show the best sides of their character: determination, a will to win, leadership, and at the same time, the ability to work as a team. And for those in the stands following the twists and turns of the dramas played out by these young battalions doing battle in one of the best arenas in the country, it provides a wonderful example for them to follow. By providing these opportunities we actively support the desire of youngsters to take part in sport. Our joint project with the Kontinental Hockey League is another important stage toward achieving this goal,” said Alexander Dyukov, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of Gazprom Neft.
Games in the Gazprom Neft Cup will receive extensive coverage on the KHL-TV Channel, and the tournament final will be broadcast live from the Arena Omsk on April 22.
The first Gazprom Neft Cup tournament for children’s hockey teams took place in 2007 in Omsk, was then hosted by Khanty-Mansiysk (2008), Salekhard (2009), before returning to Omsk in 2010 – the year the event achieved official status under the auspices of the Kontinental Hockey League and took its place on the calendar of KHL events. In 2011 it was decided that Omsk would be the permanent home of the tournament, while the coveted trophy, of course, will reside with the proud winners.
In addition to the official tournament, there will be a wide range of accompanying competitions in which teams will compete in various tests of skill and physical fitness.