On April 20 Minsk hosted the opening ceremony of the 8th International Gazprom Neft Cup Youth Ice Hockey Tournament. In 2014 the competition will for the first time be held simultaneously in Omsk and Minsk and is being run on KHL principles, in two groups.
This year the Gazprom Neft Cup has a record both in number of teams and participating countries. In the ultra-modern facilities at Arena Omsk and Chizhovka Arena, 24 teams from six countries will take to the ice. The group stage of the competition will wrap up with the final games on April 22. The superfinal will be held on April 25 in Omsk and will be broadcast live on KHL. At the opening ceremony of the Gazprom Neft Cup in Minsk, which had more than 8,000 audience members, the chairman of Gazprom Neft Alexander Dyukov and the president of the Continental Hockey League Alexander Medvedev were in attendance.
The Gazprom Neft Cup is held under the social investment programme of Gazprom Neft — Rodnye Goroda (Home cities) — aimed at developing the socio-economic potential of the regions where the company operates, creating conditions to improve quality of life, and including projects to develop cities, create infrastructure for youth and general sport, as well as initiatives in education, health care, and culture.
“Participation in the competition by 24 teams and the simultaneous games in two countries confirm the status of Gazprom Neft Cup as the largest youth ice hockey tournament in Europe. The fact that the cup is being held not only in Russia, but in Belarus as well, allows us to look forward to the competition’s international prospects. I particularly want to emphasize that Gazprom Neft Cup is one of the most important social projects for our company, aimed not only at popularizing ice hockey as a fundamental sport for our country, but also at creating a competition system for youth ice hockey as an element of training teams for masters and nationals,” said Alexander Dyukov.
Alexander Medvedev focused attention on the significance of the cup for both Russian and European hockey: “I would like to note again that the competition is already for the fourth year a joint project between KHL and Gazprom Neft. Thanks to this cooperation and support from our partners in Minsk and Omsk, we can provide this high level of competition organization. This all allows the young hockey players from six countries to feel an atmosphere of sport at the highest level even at their young age of ten. Gazprom Neft Cup provides a base for development not only for Russian, but also for European ice hockey, and is a part of multi-level systems to train athletes.”